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SKETCHES 



OP 



EUSSIAN LIFE 



BEFOBE AND DUBINa 



THE EMAIICIPATION OF THE SERFS. 



EDinBD BT 



HEITEY MOELEy,^ . 

PBorEseoB or jenglish utbbaturx or wmEasnr o^LLsqK, loeIoot. 



LONDON : CHAPMAN AND HALL. 
PHILADELPHIA: J. B. LIPPINCOTT AND 00. 

MDcbcLxyi. 

[All righii rviervftf.] p 



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LONDON: 

ROBSON ASD SON, OBEAT NOBTHSBN PBINTINO WOBKB 

PANCRAS ROAD, N.W. 



X 



TO 

WILLIAM NISBET, ESQ. 

OF EGBEHONT, CHESHIfiE. 



i 



PEEFACE. 



The author of this book, hurt in a railway accident 
when paying a short visit to England a few years 
ago, became a patient of the able surgeon and warm- 
hearted gentleman to whom he desires gratefully to 
dedicate his volume. 

That surgeon, an old friend of mine, presently 
afterwards wrote to me that he had met with a gen- 
tleman who knew more than most travellers of Rus- 
sian Life; not only because he had lived long in 
Russia, and in its remoter parts as much as in the 
capital, but chiefly because he knew how to observe 
and seize at once the point of any character or inci- 
dent. He had been persuaded to jot down some 
of his experiences, and here they were; surely, my 
friend thought, genuine enough to be worth public 
attention. 

The rough sketches thus sent to me I condensed 
for publication, and submitted to the conductor of 
All the Year Boundy who liked them so well as not 



\ 



r 



VI PKEPACE. 



only to print them, but to publish many more from 
the same writer. In this volume they are reprinted, 

I by permission, with substantial additions from papers 
m' since furnished to me by the author, who is still in 

Kussia* 

From the Mss. placed in my hands it was left 

to me to make my own selection of the matter to be 

published, and revise for the press whatever might 

seem best. I have made, perhaps, too free use 

? of the license thus accorded to me, but have in no 

- case introduced thoughts of my own that would im- 

i pair the genuineness of a very faithful transcript of 

experience. Not the minutest trace of an imaginary 

II fact has been added with the mistaken idea of height- 
[ ening the effect of any incident; and the author, 

^ whose accpiaintance I have had the pleasure of 

making during one or two recent short visits of his 
to England, is, I beheve, as incapable of imagining 
fictitious incidents as he is quick in apprehension of 
the living interest of what passes around him. 

H. M. 

May 1866. 



n" 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP. 

I. Two Sorts of Wolves • . , . 
II. Through Snow, by Diligence, to Moscow 

III. The Great National Kailway Line 

IV. Among the Horsekeepers at Moscow 
V. From Moscow to Tula . 

VI. At Tula among the Traders . 
VII. Across Country from Tula Southward 
VIII. With the Huntsmen 
IX. Serfs of a Village in the Xntbrior 
X. Kites of Hospitality 
XI. Housekeeping in the Interior 
XII.' The Tragedy of the White Village 

XIII. Wolf-hunting and Trapping 

XIV. Two KussiAN Villages . 
XV. Cotton Mills 

XVI. St. Petersburg 
XVII. Official and Commercial 
XVIII. Bond and Free 



PAGE 

I 
14 
38 
46 

55 
71 
83 
96 
109- 

133 

149 ■ 
170 
187 
200 
218 
233 
257 ' 
272 '. 



^^-^ X 



RUSSIAN LIFE. 



CHAPTER I. 

TWO SORTS OF WOLVES. 

I HAVE spent fifteen years of a long Kfe among the 
Russians in active business of divers kinds, by which 
I have been brought into close contact with men of 
all grades throughout the whole empire. 

In Russia there are seasons when, and regions 
where, the mere act of travelling is an adventure of 
some peril. For example, the winter of 1860 was in 
Russia as in England memorable for frost ; but the 
winter before that was memorable for snow. In se- 
veral parts of Russia, the beginning of March 1860 
brought a succession of snow-storms, the most violent 
that had been experienced for more than fifty years. 
It was my unlucky fate to be compelled to travel at 
that time, three hundred versts, or not quite two 

B 



2 BUSSIAN LIFB. 

hundred mfles (a verst being about three-fifths of a 
mile), over a portion of the country which had been 
most heavOy visited. And I began my journey only 
one day after the first great violence of the storms 
had subsided, 

I had been Uving for some months in a town on 
the Volga, in the centre of European Eussia, forty 
versts jfrom Jaroslav, the government county-town. 
To reach that town I must traverse a wild and un- 
inhabited track, where there were only two small 
hamlets, at one of which the twenty-verst post-station 
was to be found, if not buried in snow. My team of 
three horses, commonly called in Eussia a " troika,** 
had been carefully selected from the various stabling 
establishments in the place : the cost for driver and 
horses to be three roubles and a half (or about half a 
guinea, the rouble of a hundred copecks being worth 
a halfpenny or two more than three shillings), which 
was no great price for such a journey in such weather. 
Two wolves had been killed in our principal street 
within a week. One I had shot in my own court- 
yard the day before we started, and many reports 
were current of their hunger and unusual boldness. 
It was even said that a small village about thirty 
versts distant had been attacked by them in force. 
These facts and stories made me careftil about requi- 
site defences. My six-barrel travelling companion 
was carefully loaded and placed in my belt ready for 
use ; a magnificent nine-inch bear-knife in a sheath^ 
and a formidable blackthorn cudgel heavily weighted 
at the handle belonged also to my armament. The 



TWO SOBTS OF WOLVES. 3 

brandy-flask^ bag of provisions, bottle of water, matches, 
cigars, and portmanteau having been stowed away, I 
was about to step into the open sledge when a Russian 
neighbour came up and asked leave to join in the 
journey to Jaroslav. My neighbour, though a gentle- 
man for whom I had much respect, was the last man 
I should have chosen as a travelling companion in a 
narrow sledge, for he weighed over twenty stone, had 
great difficulty in breathiog, and, when once he was 
seated, almost required horse-power to get him up 
again. He was a phlegmatic, lazy, good-natured^ 
monosyllabic, cigaret-smoking monster who was not 
to be refused ; so, his request granted, he rolled in 
on the right side and filled three parts of the sledge. 
My Russian house -servants crossed themselves, 
whereby they meant " God give you a safe journey!" 
the members of my own family cried, " Good-bye, 
(Jod bless you!" and the driver having .gathered up 
the rope-reins, I jumped in, and with a noo-noo to the 
cattle, off we went dead against a blinding drift. 

Fat-sides having observed my weapons, grunted in 
his own Russian, of which he made the least possible 
uise, "Pistolet. Wolves. Shoot. Good." 

''Have you any weapons?" I asked. 

«No." 

" Well ; take this bear-knife." 

"Good," he said again, and relapsed into his 
corner. 

Daylight came struggling through the heavy 
morning clouds, and disclosed a cheerless waste of 
ridges and valleys of snow. The trees which at wide 



4 RUeSIAK LIFE. 

intervals indicated the route, did not save us from 
often plunging into great pits of soft snow the moment 
our driver turned but a few feet from the track. This 
happened so often, and gave us so much trouble in 
digging ourselves out, that it was noon before we had 
made sixteen versts— hardly ten miles— having been 
six hours on the way. 

At this point in our journey the driver sent the 
blood dancing through my veins, by the alarming 
cry of "Volka! Volka!"— "Wolves! Wolves 1" I 
sprang from my seat, and, looking a-head, saw six 
great, gaunt, and no doubt hungry wolves, sitting 
exactly in our way, at the distance of about a hun- 
dred yards or less. Our horses had huddled them- 
selves together, trembling in every limb, and refused 
to stir. We shouted and bawled, but the wolves also 
reftised to stir. My fat friend, gathering a large 
handful of hay fix)m the sledge bottom, rolled it into 
the form of a ball and handed it to me, saying, 
"Match." I understood him at once. The driver 
managed, by awful lashing and noo-nooing, to get 
the horses on until we came within a short distance 
of our enemies. By this time I had succeeded in 
setting fire to the ball of hay, and just as it began to 
blaze out well, I threw it in among them. It worked 
like a charm. Instantly the wretches parted, tliree 
on each side, and skulked off slowly at right angles, 
their tails dragging as if they were beaten curs. On 
dashed our brave team — ^lash, lash — ^noo, noo. 

" Hurrah 1" I shouted, with a lightened heart; 
" we are safe this time, thank God T 



TWO SORTS OP WOLVES. 5 

" Wait. Look back," said Fat-sides. 

I did so, and I saw the wolves, who had joined 
each other again in the centre track, pausing, as if to 
deliberate. Our horses were going at their utmost 
speed, the driver standing up and using lash and 
voice with all his might, to urge them on to the 
station, then only about a mile and a half ahead. 
Luckily, the road or track, as far as we could see, 
was fipee from drift, and our hope was that we could 
gain the station before the wolves, should they pursue 
us. Looking back just as we turned a bend in the 
track, I saw the whole pack in swift pursuit. 

I had often been told that wolves will not attack a 
party unless in a large pack. Six was no large pack, 
yet here they were, coming up to attack us ; there 
was now no doubt about that. Hunger through a 
long and severe winter must have made them daring. 
With the consciousness of an impending death-strug- 
gle, I prepared for the result. My thoughts went for 
one moment to my wife and children ; for another, to 
the Great Disposer of events. Then, throwing off my 
sheepskin coat, so as not to impede the free action of 
my arms and legs, I sprang on the front seat beside 
the driver, but with my back to the horses and my 
face to the enemy. I said to the driver, " They are 
coming, brother ; drive fast, but steadily. I have six 
bullets in this pistol. Don't move from your seat, but 
drive right in the centre of the track." My fat com- 
panion sat still in his comer, and neither moved nor 
spoke ; but I saw the blade of my bear-knife gleaming 
in his hand. 



6 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

The track had become worse, so that the horses 
could not maintain their pace. Li a short time the 
wolves ran beside the sledge ; the horses strained and 
shot on, keeping their distance, but in forcing our 
way through a drift we came to a walking pace, and 
the first wolf on my side made a dash at the horse 
next him. The pistol was within a foot and a half of 
his head when I fired, and the ball went through his 
brain. I shouted my triumph in English ; my com- 
panion echoed it with a "Bravo!" The second wolf 
received my second fire in the leg, which must have 
shattered the bone, for he dropped behind instantly. 
" Bravo !" was again cried from the corner. But the 
same moment was the moment of our greatest peril. 
My pistol fell into the sledge, as, with a sudden jolt, 
our horses floundered up to their bellies in a deep 
drift ; then they came to a dead stop, and there was 
a wolf at each side of the sledge, attempting to get in. 

My bludgeon still remained. With both hands I 
raised it high and brought it down with the desperate 
force of a man in mortal extremity, upon the head of 
the wolf on my side. He tumbled over on his back, 
and the skull was afterwards found to have been 
completely smashed. As I stooped to regain my 
pistol, I was astonished to see my companion coolly 
thrust one of his arms into the wolfs mouth, and as 
coolly, with the disengaged hand, drawing the knife, 
with a deep and sharp cut, across his throat. A 
peculiar cry among the horses arrested my attention. 
Looking round, I saw another wolf actually fastened 
on the off-horse by the neck. The driver was be- 



TWO SOBTS OF WOLVES. 7 

tween me and the wolf. He cried, ^^GKve me the 
pistol I'' I did so, and the poor horse was firee. So 
also were we ; for the other wolf ran oflF, followed by 
the one with the broken leg. The wolf last shot was 
tumbling among the snow. The driver handed me 
the pistol to put right, and begged another shot at the 
brtlte. This finished the engagement. 

I cannot tell how I felt. I could scarcely realise 
our great deliverance. The driver secured the car- 
cases to the sledge ; and when we reached the station 
I was completely exhausted from the reaction of the 
^strong excitement. My friend of the twenty stone 
chuckled much at his own trick upon the wolf he had 
killed. Instead of putting his arm into the animal's 
open mouth, as I supposed, he had stuffed into it the 
loose sleeves of his great sheepskin coat, thereby get- 
ting plenty of time to cut the monster^s throat. His 
own arm was untouched. But the poor horse's neck 
and shoulder were much torn. 

After consuming an enormous quantity of tea and 
part of our provisions, we left the station, and without 
meeting more adventures, except several diggings-out, 
arrived at Jaroslav at eight o'clock, having accom- 
plished about thirty miles in thirteen hours. Next 
morning we found ourselves popular characters in the 
town. The driver's tongue had not been idle. My 
revolver underwent many an examination. The go- 
vernment or local reward for a dead wolf is three 
roubles, which we claimed and received for three. So 
the wolves, instead of killing us, paid our travelling 
expenses. The fourth animal I caused to be skinned. 



8 KUSSIANLIFE. 

for preservation, as a remembrance of the greatest 
peril I was ever in- 

Jaroslay is the name of a large goobemie, or 
government. Bussia is divided into such districts, 
the principal town of each being generally named 
after the district, and containing the whole machinery 
of local government — a governor-general, with sol- 
diers, police, barracks, government offices, and officials 
of aU sorts, who obtain their rank fix)m, and obey the 
orders of, the supreme imperial power in St. Peters- 
burg. I am not writmg the histoiy or geography of 
Bussia, but am only recalling personal experiences 
and adventures, and therefore, having said so much, 
I go on with my story. 

As this trip was made before the new law regard- 
ing foreigners' passports, which now enables them to 
travel for an entire year with one passport all over 
the empire, I was obliged to go before the governor* 
general for permission, in continuing my journey, to 
leave the government of Jaroslav. What is gained 
by the new passport sjrstem one may judge fix)m what 
had to be endured before its time. I call at the offices 
entitled " Gubemator's Kansileery." The door-keeper 
tells me I must wait till to-morrow. Twenty kopecks^ 
however, induce him to conduct me to the right clerk. 
This clerk looks over my old passport, and, for " a 
consideration," makes out a petition, praying the 
governor to give me a new one to go to St. Peters- 
burg by way of Moscow ; for another " consideration" 
he makes out the new passport itself, for which I pay 



I 

' TWO SOBTS OF WOLVES. 9 

I the legal sum of two roubles. I am then told to go 

to the governor's own house, in a distant part of the 
town, to get his signature. When I get there I am 
told that it cannot be done without a certificate from 
the chief of the poUce that I am quite clear on his 
books. By this time it is near four o'clock, and I am 
too late. A day is lost. 

Next day, at ten, I am at the police-office, and, 
among a crowd of people of all sorts, am obUged to 
wait till two before the chief makes his appearance. 
In' the mean time I have coaxed a secretary with 
another consideration to make out the certificate 
on the back of my old passport, that there may be no 
delay when he does come. 

Well aware, as I was, of the practically irrespon- 
sible position held, and the almost unlimited power 
exercised by officials of this kind at such a distance 
fix)m head-quarters, still I was scarcely prepared for 
the experience I acquired during a patient waiting of 
four hours for this official. I had been, as usual, 
asking questions and moving about from one part of 
the large room to another. There were no mere 
spectators present. That all had business was fully 
manifested by the enormously large papers each held 
in hand. These papers contained their various cases, 
as they were to be submitted to the chief of the po- 
lice, and as they had been written out by the under 
functionaries of the poKce establishment for a con- 
sideration, duly or unduly proportioned to the nature 
of the cases and the demands of the officials. Accom- 
modation in an inner room was offered to me, but 



10 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

declined; for I wanted to know more of a Bnssian 
police-court. 

" What are you wanting here^ brother I" I said to 
>a decent-looking man. 

^' You are an Englishman. I will tell you* You 
.see that man in the blue caftan ?" 

*^Yes.'' 

"Well, my brother and I caught him stealing 
from my premises six months ago. He had two horses 
with him for carting my goods off, and, as we caught 
him in the act, we gave him and the horses up to the 
police." 

" Well," I said, " that is a plain case easily settled.'* 

" God help me ! I thought so too. But you see 
they have been sending for my brother and me, on 
one pretence or another, from our village, fifteen 
versts away, every week for six months, writing 
papers and giving evidence, until I have cause to 
believe that the affair itself must have been a dream. 
I am so tired out, I cannot go on telling the truth 
-any longer. Besides, it's of no use. Last week my 
brother saw the very same two horses in the police- 
master^s carriage." 

"Ahl Isee; the thief is free at the cost of two 
^ood horses. And what do you do now? That paper 



"A statement that the whole thing must have 
been a dream and delusion on the part of my brother 
and myself, and that we have nobody to accuse. I 
wish we were quit of the business." And he crossed 
himself. 



TWO SOBTS OF WOLVES. 11 

"Why do you cry, my dear mother, and what is 
jour petition about I" I said to a poor woman. 

"Oh, my lord, I have been cheated. I am a 
widow; my husband died three months ago. He 
bought the little house and garden twelve months 
before that, and paid two hundred roubles — all the 
money except twenty roubles. The police-master 
signed the deed of sale for it, but has forgotten all 
libout it. The man that sold the place denies the 
selling and the paying. I and my children are turned 
•out, and this is the fourth petition I have presented. 
I have no money to give his excellency, to make him 
remember." 

Poor woman I The only appeal from official ra- 
pacity is to the emperor ; his ears are indeed never 
shut to the lowliest of his subjects ; but how can 
A poor woman tramp six hundred miles of Bussian 
road to sue for justice ? 

Wandering among these confused but silent 
groups, I was heartily glad to be an Englishman. 

An old gray-haired, long-bearded peasant, with 
a head like an apostle, attracted my attention. 

• ** Good father, why are you here? What is that 
paper in your hand I" 

"My son has been misbehaving and rebellious to 
.me, his father, and I am come to get him whipped 
by the police." 

"Is your son young, then?" 

"He has seen thirty-four summers." 

"How can you think of whipping a man of that 
-age?" 



12 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

*^ Well, you see, before he left me for St. Peters- 
burg, nine years ago, he was, and had always been, 
a good and respectful son; but he has learnt bad 
manners amongst the fine folks. He drinks, sirr 
puts on fine airs; sets himself up against my autho- 
rity, and is corrupting the rest of my children. I 
must get him whipped; for while I live I will be 
father of my own house." 

Suddenly there was a bustle and stir. The wait- 
ing claimants for justice, with a score of prisoners 
under arrest, arranged themselves in rows aU round 
the room, and I had time to ensconce myself behind 
a large and greasy merchant, when in came the long- 
looked-for chief of the police— judge, jury, law, and 
emperor in one. He was a colonel, dressed in full 
regimentals, — a man who seemed to be naturally 
bold, shrewd, and intelligent ; but his nose was scar- 
let, his face blotched, and he reeled rather than 
walked. Doing his best to stand erect, he scowled 
upon the assembled mob, all of whom, except myself^ 
stood bending and bowing before him. 

He took paper after paper, glanced at and par-^ 
tially read some of them ; gave his signature to con- 
tracts ; passed, as the papers were read, sentence on 
each with marvellous rapidity; tossed some on the 
table, and ordered those who presented them under 
arrest ; sent ten to be whipped — among the rest the 
old man's son ; and before I was aware — so absorbed 
was I in observation of this swift torrent of justice — 
I found myself almost alone with his excellency, his- 
eye resting on me for the first time. 



TWO SORTS OF WOLVES. 13 

"Ahr he said, his tone and manner changing 
on the instant ; " you are an Englishman, I perceive. 
What may your pleasure be I" 

" Simply to beg that you will sign this certificate 
of good character, which I have here under your 
jurisdiction." 

"It shall be done instantly; sorry to keep you 
waiting. You see how I am tormented by these 
canaille. Pray, excuse me. A safe journey. Adieu." 

He thrusts me out, and I am driven to the go- 
vernor-general's, to get his signature to my new 
passport. The governor- general has gone to dine: 
another day is to be lost. The hour of the diligence 
for Moscow for starting every morning is eight. The 
govemor^s office does not open until ten, so that the 
next day is also to be lost unless I choose to hire 
post, which would be a desperate proceeding in such 
weather. The signature is obtained, however, by the 
aid of a consideration to the clerk ; the day passes 
heavily away; and next morning I start for Mos- 
cow, distailt two hundred and sixty-three versts, in 
a public diligence, in company with four Kussians 
and a German. 



CHAPTER n. 

THROUGH SNOW, BY DILIGENCE, TO MOSCOW. 

In ordinaiy weather the road to Moscow from Ja- 
roslav is one of the best and busiest in the empire. 
In both summer and winter it can be travelled over 
in twenty-eight or thirty hours. There are post sta^ 
tions every sixteen or twenty versts, where horses 
are changed, and a fresh driver is put on to every 
fr^h team. These drivers are the most reckless and 
determined whips I have seen. No weather scares 
them, no obstacles stop them; the Society for the 
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would put every 
man and boy of them in jail. The knout or whip 
is used without mercy ; the men take especial delight 
in beginning at the top of a steep hill a fierce gallop^ 
that grows to racing speed as they get near the bot* 
tom; so that the cattle and passengers find them- 
selves up the next acclivity before the momentum is 
lost. They don't know the meaning of patent drag, 
but drive determinedly on at full stretch to the end 
of the station. The Russians cross themselves when 
a start is made, lie back in the most convenient man- 
ner possible, and amid jolting, bumping, cries, and 
lashing, go to sleep as composedly as if they were 



THROUGH SNOW TO MOSCOW. 15 

in a railway carriage. Wheels will come oflF, poles- 
break, and other casualties occur; but as spare ropes, 
hammer, axe, nails, and even spare wheels, are always 
carried, a break-down seldom causes a delay of ten 
minutes. This is summer travelling; the vehicle 
used being a " tarantas," a large double caliche 
without seats, placed on and tied to the centre of 
horizontal poles, for springs of the best steel would 
snap like glass. Passengers make seats of their lug- 
gage, and with straw and pillows save their joints 
from dislocation. Winter, however, brings other con- 
trivances. The universal travelling "kibitka" is got 
out. This is a nearly square frame of wood covered 
with canvas, having a door on each side. The 
covered frame, which resembles a large box, is fixed 
on a low strong sledge. Primitive birch shafts are 
fastened to the front, the horses are put in, and the 
turn-out is perfect. Without the cattle it may cost 
two or three pounds, because it is all covered in. 
This is a luxurious winter equipage compared to the 
open sledge. 

It was in a kibitka, dignified by the name of 
diligence, that we started at eight o'clock a.m. from 
Jaroslav. We had no sooner cleared the town than 
our difficulties began, not to come to an end for seven 
following days and nights. For three days since the 
great storm little snow had fallen, but there was a 
blinding wind lifting into clouds the snow already 
on the ground, and building it into mountain ridges 
right in our track. The smooth broad macadamised 
road was a myth, buried here six, or there ten, feet 



16 RUSSIAN LIFE, 

deep; and in case of ridges or wind-sweeps, thirty 
feet. TraflSc was nevertheless going on; indeed, 
had been going on during the whole time of the 
storm. A snow-storm, however fierce, never deters 
the Russians from a journey. For this reason a 
single track was commonly available, but that track 
was by no means a level or smooth one : it worked 
like Toby Tosspot's, "with sinuosities along," not 
only transversely but vertically, in a continued suc- 
cession of ups and downs, from six to ten feet in 
depth, so that the horses' heads were generally in the 
hollow. When the kibitka was on the crest of the 
snow-wave, we soon found that our team of three 
good horses was totally unable to pull us over these 
dreadful " yamas." In many cases the six passengers 
got out to help the cattle, and even then it took a 
good pull all together to accomplish it. To save this 
labour three additional horses were added, at the first 
small village, at our own expense, and then we got 
on rather better. It would be tedious to enumerate 
how many times we were overturned, and had to dig 
ourselves out of the soft snow. Many vehicles of 
like construction to ours were struggling on under 
the same difficulties, to or from Moscow. At nme 
PJM. one of our horses gave up, died, and, having 
been cut out of his traces, was left to the wolves. 
At eleven o'clock another burst a blood-vessel, and 
shared his fate. A third gave up within a mile of 
the town at which we intended to recruit; and finally 
we had to get out and walk to a place of reftige, 
leaving the three remaining animals to pull the empty 



A HOTBL IN THE INTBBIOIU IT 

carriage aftter us. We had, in sixteen hours, with 
three separate teams of firesh horses, accomplished 
the distance of forty-five versts, our pace being littlQ 
better than two miles an hour. 

The town we had entered is called Bostov, and 
had been for the two previous weeks the scene of an 
immense fair, second only to the great Nishni Nov^ 
gorod fair held in August. It was nearly over when 
we reached the town. Had we come two days sooner, 
there would have been great difficulty ui finding 
shelter : as it was, it was one o'clock in the morning 
before we got imder cover in a large traktera, or inn, 
densely crowded with buyers and sellers from the 
fair, — a place steaming with all manner of odours. 
Wearied and worn out, and almost shaken to pieces, 
we were all glad to be huddled into a room twelve 
feet by fifteen; where, after drinking an enormous 
quantity of tea, and eating a cutlet — or an imitation 
of a cutlet in gutta percha — ^my companions went to 
bed on the floor. I, desiring better quarters, sought 
out the stables, where, rolled in my shirt and covered 
with hay — procured for a consideration — I passed 
four or five hours in a sound sleep. 

A Eussian hotel in the interior is the most filthy 
of all filthy places; for, as the fioors are never 
washed, the mud and filth accumulate to an inch 
and a half in thickness, the walls are black and foetid, 
tarakans — a horrible sort of large brown beetle — 
crawl in myriads over every thing, invading even the 
dishes out of which the traveller eats and drinks, and 
the dirty deal tables are further defiled with a 





18 . RUSSIAN LIFE* 

dirty linen cloth. The public rooms, generally lofky 
and spacious, are constantly filled with the offensive 
odour of the native tobacco. The waiters are all 
men dressed in print trousers and shirts; the trousers 
stuffed into long boots, and the shirts hanging out- 
side the trousers; a parti-coloured band or scarf round 
the waist completing the costume. Their hair, like 
that of all the peasants, is worn long, cut straight 
round the neck, and parted in front like a woman's, 
while the beard is neither cut nor trimmed. 

Most of the Kussian merchants do all their bar- 
gaining in the inns, and while doing business swallow 
fabulous quantities of tea at a sitting. It is drunk 
in glass tumblers, and the sugar is taken, not in the 
tea, but with it — ^nibbled at, to sweeten the mouth 
before every gulp : no milk is used. The brass urn, 
or " samovar," contains the supply of hot water, 
which is kept boiling by inserting burning charcoal 
in the centre tube. Travellers may carry their own 
tea, sugar, and bread, and by paying ten or twenty 
kopecks will at any station or inn get the use of an 
urn. The hot water being brought to the carriage- 
door in summer, many travellers never enter one of 
these places, but sleep, eat, and travel in their con- 
veyances for weeks. 

Next morning we started at six o'clock with five 
horses, but had soon to add a sixth. This day was 
like the day before it, except that we killed no 
horses. As daylight vanished, we determined to 
push on during the night ; but at eleven o'clock we 
lost the track in the dark, and stuck fast in a moun-^ 



THROUGH SNOW TO MOSCOW. 18 

tain ridge of snow,. After an hour spent in fruitless 
eflforts at extrication^ three of us set out in search of 
assistance. To our astonishment we presently dis- 
covered, by "the smoke that so gracefully curled" 
from several points at once, that we were wrecked in 
the midst of a straggling snow-covered village. A 
kind peasant gave us admittance, and sent help to 
our half-f5rozen companions. This day we made 
about thirty-two miles in seventeen hours. As I 
had slept with the horses on the previous night, so 
this evening the cow ^ve me a part of her bed. 

We had passed six dead horses, some of them 
partially devoured, and four overturned conveyances^ 
enabedded in deep snow, beyond recovery until the 
spring. Where the passengers were, I know not: 
my companions said, "God knows," and crossed 
themselves. All along the track we had seen evi-» 
deuces of distress : wrecks of sledges, horses up to 
their necks in drift, men digging them out. But 
just before starting the next morning we saw the 
most horrible sight of all. Opposite the hut of our 
poor entertainer there had been men digging, to get 
into a house entirely buried in snow, and they had 
succeeded in rescuing a family that had been four 
days buried. This family was none the worse for its 
mishap ; but the diggers had come on a sledge with 
its horse, driver, and two women frozen to death, and 
buried in the drift. They had got fast, and perished 
without help in. the midst of a village. Caught in 
the greatest fury of the storm, they had not known 
their whereabout, nor had their cries been beards 



20 BUSSIAKLIFB. 

Three months aflter this^ and when the snows disap« 
peared, from two hundred and fifty to three hundred 
corpses were f ound, all of whom had met their death 
in this fearfiil storm upon the Moscow road alone. 
So I have been told, and fully believe. 

Ten at night found us within a station of Pereslaf. 
After getting our conveyance under cover, and our 
light luggage removed to the house or den, I had time 
to visit an adjoining peasant's cot. 

Here was a whole family spinning and weaving 
flax. The family manufactory included every pro- 
cess, from the scutching to the linen-weaving, all 
carried on within the space of a room twenty feet 
square. In a corner stood a mild elderly father 
scutching the straw from the flax ; the mother sat 
near him, helped by a son, combing out the tow with 
hand-brushes; every now and then throwing small 
twisted rolls of the tow into a bunker, and plaiting 
up the long flax ready for sale or spinning. Three 
rather good-looking girls were spinning and twirling 
the thread, several yomig ones were winding and un- 
winding the yam, and one girl was the weaver at her 
loom plying the busy shuttle. The whole machinery 
employed in this primitive workshop and family manu- 
factory — ^hear it, ye Baxters of Dundee, and Marshalls 
of Leeds — ^loom included, would not cost two sove- 
reigns. My companion and fellow-traveller, a young 
Russian, very soon was on good terms with the young 
folks, and as I sat down by the dame, the old man 
joined us, and we talked of the late storm and its con- 



D7 A peasant's COTTAGE. 31 

sequences, of the flax-work, and of how they sold what 
they made, to pay the baron. They were communi- 
cative on the prices they got for the different qualities, 
told me how they worked at this all winter, and on the 
land all summer; how the baron was a good man, 
but spent in Moscow and Petersburg his time and 
money, leaving his poor slaves to the tender mercies 
of a German steward, who skinned them unmerci- 
fully. One of their boys, they said, had gone, or 
rather had been sent, to the Crimea as a soldier, and ^ 
they had never heard of him since; another son was 
at Moscow in a woollen fabric, and had to pay fifty 
roubles a-year, "obrok," to the baron. The two 
eldest girls had been ordered to marry after Easter, 
and to marry men they did not like. One of the / 
men was a drunken worthless fellow ; but ah, dear 
Heaven, had not their father the emperor — God bless 
him ! — decreed their emancipation? And were they 
not soon to do what they liked, and be freed from the 
"obrok"? Their notions of liberty or political rights 
amounted to this, and no more. 

Having sent my companion for tea and sugar, I 
asked the girls to prepare the urn, and further ingra- 
tiated myself by buying a piece of the linen they had 
made and bleached on the grass the previous summer. 
While the tea was being handed about, an old woman 
came in: the "swakha," or ambassadress from one of 
the intended bridegrooms. All marriages among the 
common people in Russia are negotiated by such go- 
betweens, who arrange preliminaries, extol the quali- 
ties of their clients, examine and decide on the trous- 



22 BUSSIAN LIFE« 

jseau of the bride, and act as head negotiators in the 
whole affair. When the father of the bride can afford 
it, money is demanded, and a written list of the "pre- 
dania," or articles of the trousseau, is given in. The 
iurticles accordingly supplied are scrutinised, and ac- 
cepted, rejected, or exchanged, according to the fiat 
of the old go-between. There is no courtship or per- 
sonal affection before these marriages. The woman 
generally submits, as a matter of course, and becomes 
the slave of any brute appointed by the baron or 
steward, or by her father when no master interferes. 

I know a family of free Russians, in which the 
father was of the rank of "chinovnick." He had 
four daughters, all accomplished, the eldest decidedly 
plain, the others good-looking. A suitor appeared 
for the hand of the youngest and prettiest, in the 
person of a young government official. His go-be- 
tween, or swakha, required to know how much money 
the father would give, and what the " predania." " I 
give nothing,". said the old man. "The elder sisters 
must be married first,, and it is robbing them to give 
first to the youngest. If the young man will take 
the eldest, I will give four thousand roubles; if the 
second, fifteen hundred; if the third, a ^predane' 
without money; but if he must have the youngest, 
nothing." As the young man wanted to buy or bribe 
his way into a higher station of life, he offered to 
take the eldest of these girls for six thousand roubles. 
Tliis would have wronged the other daughters, and 
the offer was refused. The yomigest, who had set her 
heart on the fellow, pined; the others offered to give 



MABBYINQ MONET. 23 

up their claims to make her happy, but the father 
was inexorable. The poor thing was dead of con- 
sumption eighteen months afterwards, and the bar- 
gaining swain is now married to the eldest, richest, 
and least handsome. This happened in the capital, 
among what we called the "French-polished" Rus- 
sians. But I must return to my poor peasants of no 
polish. 

The swakha finding the field occupied by strange 
guests, confined herself on this occasion to an ^lu- 
jneration of the many excellences of the appointed 
husband, among wliich I remember one which sounded 
curious — ^it was, that though fond of brandy, he knew 
how to get it for nothing. Another was, that his 
father would not Hve long, and so, he being the eldest 
son, his wife would quickly become mistress of the 
whole family, and own the hut, pig, cow, horse, and 
•other appurtenances of headship. When a woman 
marries the eldest son of a house, she is taken home 
%to the paternal roof, and, on the death of the father, 
becomes mistress, to the exclusion of the mother-in- 
law, whose reign ceases at once. 

As it was now late, the good people of this hut 
offered me a mattress in another room; and I passed 
the night luxuriously in clean linen, and with my 
'clothes off*, for the first and only time during a long 
Kussian journey. Where the night was spent by my 
young Russian fellow-traveller I cannot tell. In the 
morning, when we were about to start, he had vanished 
with his traps, no one knew whither. After waiting 
at the station some time, I went back to inquire at 



24 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

my host's. One of the daughters met me at the door 
with sparkling eyes, as pretty a country beauty as I 
had seen any where in Bussia. To my question she 
answered, "I will tell you; you are a good fellow* 
He cannot leave me yet, and will remain here a day 
or two. But don't say to any body where he is. God 
give you a safe journey ! Good-by." WherewiA she 
vanished. Already my fellow-travellers were grumb- 
ling at a long delay, so I had little difficulty in per- 
suading them to travel on without him. 

I may as well tell — since I know it — the sequel 
to this little history. Nine months afterwards, I was 
stepping out of a railway carriage at Moscow, when I 
met my old companion of the hut; he seized my port- 
manteau with one hand, and with the other he dragged 
me to the gate, tumbled me with himself into a pre* 
lotka (a small open carriage), and directed the driver 
where to go. " You are going to my house," he said^ 
" to meet an old acquaintance, and to be our guest 
while you remain in Moscow. Don't say no; it shalt 
be so." On arriving at his house, a small one, but 
very respectable, I was agreeably surprised to meet 
the beauty of the hut, who came forward as his wif e^ 
looking as happy as man cotdd desire. She had just 
finished a music-lesson, was dressed very neatly, and 
she did the honours of the house quite creditably 
while I stayed. 

^^ You remember telling me on that awful journey 
in March last," said the young Russian when we sat 
up together, " how they married for love in England^ 
and not for money; how women were not there slaves 



- MABBTINO FOR LOVE. 25^ 

to men, and so forth? Well, I saw this girl that very 
night about to be sacrificed to a brute. I thought 
her good and pure; and you know she is beautiful. 
So I began that night to love her, told her so, and 
told her father so. I could not tear myself away for 
three days; and at the end of that time I determined 
I would have her, let it cost me what it might. So 
when I got to Moscow I called on her master, the 
baron; offered to buy her; and begged him not to 
allow her to be married to the bad man whom the 
steward had appointed. But," he continued, taking 
me by both hands, "you had been before me there. 
He told me that he had seen an Englishman who so 
represented the case, that he had given orders for the 
stoppage of that marriage." 

" Yes," I said, " I did see him, and found him a 
kind-hearted gentleman, quite unaware of some of 
his steward's pranks. He granted my request at 
once, and in my presence sent a letter off to stop the 
marriage." 

"But," he said, "that is not all. He refused to 
sell her ; said that he knew the family well, that the 
old man had charge of him while a boy, and once pro- 
tected his life at some risk. He asked me what I was, 
and what interest I had in the girl. I replied, that 
I wanted to marry her. ^ Then,' said he, ' the whole 
family shall have its fireedom as soon as we can make 
out the necessary papers.' That is all done long ago. 
The rascally steward is discharged, and I am to fill 
his place." 



/ 



26 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

Again I turn to the snowy winter journey, of which 
a part has been ah^eady described. The track on the 
fourth day was worse than any we had yet encountered, 
being more cut up with traffic. But we had good 
cattle, and one man less to carry; so, although we 
were upset more than once, we did not make less 
than our usual progress. Once the kibitka turned 
over in a deep valley of snow, and the passengers were 
tossed together into a confused and struggling mass. 
My breath was nearly choked out of me by the weight 
of a fat Kussian baron, whose thumb I was obliged to 
bite as he was digging his hands into my face, before 
he could be induced to tumble off. After scrambling, 
as usual, out at the top door, and to the track again^ 
we found the whole wreck beyond remedy by our un- 
assisted powers. Fortmiately, however, a long line 
of sledges with goods from Eastov fair, being just in 
front of us, the poor peasants who were attached as 
diivers and guards, although they had plenty of trou- 
blesome work on their o^vn hands, came back, and by 
main force lifted us out of the hole. It was some 
time before we were so far righted as to be able to go 
on ; and then when we were making up lost time, and 
overtook our fiiends with their sledges, numbering 
probably a hundred in a long line on the one solitary 
track, it became necessary to pass them if we would 
not be kept at a snail's pace for many hours. But 
the passing was not easy. The wiiole line must draw 
close to one side, and in some cases into the soft snow, 
and this the men for a long time refused to do. It 
was a difficult job, involvhig risk to some, and the 



A BARON WITH THE POLISH OFF. 27 

road was theirs as well as ours. The Kussian baron^ 
who was one of us, at length lost all temper, and 
began to swear as only a Russian can. Being cold 
and hungry, exliausted and much shaken, he was 
anxious to get to some shelter, especially as night was 
now closing. Oaths having no effect, he lost the last 
glimmer of polish, and came out the bom Tartar that 
ie was. Dragging the cudgel from my hand, he began 
belabouring with all his might the men and horses, 
dealing blows right and left, and compelling the men 
to draw up to one side as fast as we came up. For 
an hour^ this lasted, before we had passed aU the 
sledges. 

"There, you canaille!" he cried as he struck. 
^' Take that ! Give the road, you lazy vermin ! 
Make room, you pigs! I am a baron, don't you 
see? A friend of the governor's! Sons of dogs! 
Defilement of the earth ! Your mothers are beasts !" 
and so forth. 

This was his gentlest style, while the blows fell in 
a shower. Forty or fifty men submitted to all this, 
grumbled, but cowed; they took the blows and in- 
sults of this one man as dogs take their masters' 
kicks; they were serfs, he was a baron. After he 
had recovered his seat and his breath, and had wiped 
the perspiration from his head, he turned to me, and 
asked, with an air of national pride, 

^^ What do you say to that, me lort?" 

"I say, that had you struck the poorest of my 
countrymen in that manner, they would either have 
J^oxed you into a jelly, or they would have tied you 



28 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

to a sledge untfl they reached the first town, and then 
given you up to a magistrate for an assault." 

"O, as to that, I should soon get away from a 
magistrate. A little money would soon do that." 

"Indeed ! I can tell you that your whole estate^ 
with a dozen like it, would not buy one of our magis- 
trates." 

This assertion only caused an incredulous laugh,, 
and a remark from the baron that he could buy 
any country magistrates in Russia for fifty kopecks^ 
(eighteenpence). 

The baron referred to was a tall, stout man, well 
acquainted with the French and German languages 
as well as the Euss, and apparently, also, with the 
literature of England. He had read, in French and 
Russian, translations of the works of the chief Eng- 
lish novelists and poets of the present century. He 
spoke with enthusiasm of the English government and 
people ; and he recited Russian compositions, which,, 
in the time of Nicholas, and at St. Petersburg, would 
have insured him a free passage to Siberia. He told 
me he had just manumitted a great portion of hi& 
serfs, and was on his way to the two capitals to sell 
his estate and leave the country ; or, failing in that, 
to lot his land, and bring it into proper cultivation.. 
The great curse of the country, he thought, were the 
priests — a lazy, ignorant pack; immoral, drunken, 
and filthy in the interior, polished and crafty in the^ 
capitals. The emancipation of the serfs was nothing 
without the abolition of the priestly influence. The 



A SOLDIEB FBOM IKKEBMAK. 29 

state finances, he said, were in a terribly low state. 
Why did not the ^aperor play Henry the Eighth, 
aeize upon the numerous and enormously wealthy 
monasteries and churches, and melt down the gold 
and silver lying useless in their coffers, or covering 
their altars and pretended saints I My name not 
being asked, the baron and the others called me Lort 
Palmerston. " My baron worshipped Palmerston ; but 
lie said it was "Henry the Eighth and Oliver Crom- 
well they wanted." In opinions and character this 
fellow-traveller was one of a large class that may one 
day play a cudgel for what it ccmsiders Russian re- 
generation; a man polite to excess, but, " when scraped, 
a Tartar," as the poor sledge-drivers who had pulled 
xis out of the pit could witness. This baron's son, a 
joung man of twenty-two, was with us, already proud 
to employ English oaths, and talk of " box," besides 
being so unpleasantly addicted to rather practical 
jokes, that on one occasion I was obliged to give him 
a little unexpected practice in the "noble science," 
for which his father most politely, and I think sin- 
cerely, thanked me. 

An officer of infantry, wounded at Likerman, 
and now invalided, was another of our party. He 
was very civil to me, and asked many questions 
about the English army and navy systems. Of In- 
kerman, " Ah !" he said, " I was there, and re- 
ceived my wound from an English officer's revolver. 
Poor fellow! I forgave him; it was his last barrel, 
and the last shot he ever fired; but he hurled the 
empty pistol at one of those who were pressing on 



30 KUSBIAN LIFE. 

him, so that he knocked the fellow down; but* 
the next moment he fell, pierced with balls and 
bayonets. My God! how these few men did fight 
and die, surprised by a whole anny!" He related 
what, indeed, I had often heard in Bnssia, that all 
the detail of attack was carefully planned in St.. 
Petersburg by the Emperor Nicholas, who was per- 
fectly convinced of its complete success. And it 
would most certainly have sufficed, had that hand* 
ftd of Englishmen but known when it was over- 
matched. "But this we could not make them un-^ 
derstand," he said; "so in time the French came, 
in overwhelming masses, and our troops were forced 
to retire. English stupidity lost us the best chance 
we had during that war." Wlien the express courier 
reached St. Petersburg with the first news of that 
defeat, and the entire failure of the carefiilly-devised 
plan that was to drive the allies into the sea, the em- 
peror, scouting the rumour of defeat arrived the day 
before, received the messenger — an officer of rank — 
as the bearer of joyful, tidings. Something, however^ 
in the officer's looks betokened any thing but joy^ 
and in breathless silence from the assembled court, 
the emperor stalked up to the man, seized him by 
both shoulders, and said with evident effort and con- 
centrated emotion, " Say ! speak ! Is it victory ?'' 

"My liege, I have instructions. There is the 
despatch !" 

" Speak one word : Victory ! — quick." 
"Nay, sire, I am distressed to say it is defeat,'*^ 
replied the officer, and hung his head. 



BUS^UNISED GEBMA17S. 31 

" Liar !" roared the emperor ; and vnth his whole 
force he flung the messenger of evil to the other side 
of the room, and walked into the adjoining cabinet 
with the unopened despatch in his hand. How far 
this scene, repeated again by my friend the soldier, 
is true, I cannot tell ; but as it is said to have had 
many witnesses, so I know it is widely credited among 
men likely to be right as to such matters. 

The only other traveller in our kibitka was a 
Sussianised German : one of a class very common in 
Sussia, and, as a class, inquisitive, crafty, miscrupu- 
lous, hating the English with what soul they have, 
cheating and injmdng them when they have the 
power. Eussia is overrun with Germans of this 
sort, who are to be found in all places except where 
sound knowledge and honourable dealing are essen- 
tial. Nearly all the apothecaries are such Germans, 
and the prices they sell drugs at are audacious. They 
get to be stewards, and then woe to the poor pea- 
sants. They largely import German girls, who are j 
preferred to Russian by the dissolute. They are con- 
fectioners, factors, watchmakers, sausage- and ham- 
dealers, organ- and knife-grinders, any thing. When 
they first invaded the country they were called " nei- 
mitz," or dummies, because, unable to speak the lan- 
guage, they talked only by signs. The army itself 
is overrmi with greedy German officers and doctors : 
too commonly men who,- while poor, will submit to 
any degradation ; but who, when they get up in the 
world a little, are fastidious and proud. The Rus- 
sians hate them with good cause, because they are 



d2 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

cruel, extortionate, tyrannical, and practically use- 
less. Many of the nobility and gentry are married 
to German women ; for the Bussian women are wan, 
and not usually good-looking. The German wives 
exert the influence of their husbands in advancing 
the interests of all their poor relations. Let me illus- 
trate this by a short history, which will show also the 
state of Russian serfdom under German management. 
General B. was a pure Bussian, but having in his 
youth been employed as a diplomatist in England and 
elsewhere, he became so deeply sensible of the poli- 
tical degradation of his countrymen, and of his own 
responsibility in relation to his serfs, that when he 
returned to Bussia he obtained the emperor's per- 
mission to retire fix)m public life, and devote him- 
self, assisted by his wife (also of an old Bussian 
family), to the task of improving the condition of 
the ten thousand serfs on his estates. These estates 
were extensive, had a splendid soil, and happened to 
be situated iii a genial climate. The general him- 
self went to live in the midst of his people, looked 
into their wants, established schools and churches, 
as well as factories, corn-mills, sugar-works, adopted 
agricultural improvements, and increased his wealth. 
He was the first to set up a cotton-mill in Bussia, in 
order to employ profitably his people and time during 
the long lazy winter months formerly spent in per- 
fect idleness. The fortunate serfs increased their 
allotments ; the sound of whip or stick was never 
heard; traders came far distances to trade in the 
thriving valleys of B., and their produce brought the 



1 

A GOOD MASTER. / 33 

best prices in the large town, distant ^ly one hun- 
dred versts. In all disputes the genial himself was 
judge and jury; he was adviser md friend in all 
difficulties. Incorrigib>5 delinquents were punished 
by being sent off the estate to work, according to 
the common custom, under other owners, on the 
"obrok," and on this estate no heavier punishment 
could be inflicted. He built a country-house, a 
copy from some English gentleman's seat that he had 
seen and liked; surrounded it with gardens and a 
park; erected farm-houses on a large scale; im- 
ported implements, cattle, and experienced overseers : 
and when his bams and coffers were full, and all 
went well with him and his, he died, beloved and 
almost worshipped by the men to whom his life had 
been a blessing. Ten years after the old general's 
death, I inhabited a wing of his mansion for a 
twelvemonth, so that I know well what I am re- 
lating. Evidences were around me daily, on all 
sides, of the good that was done, and the cause of 
the change that followed. 

"Ah!" said the old Russian overseer of the 
cotton-mill, " you should have come in the old gene- 
ral's time. Then we were men ; now we are beasts. 
Then we were all* rich ; now we are skinned and 
robbed of our very flesh. Then we could eat beef; 
now we cannot get enough of ^ casha' to keep us alive. 
Look at me. Am I not as thin as a ghost I The 
year the general died, I weighed fifteen stone ; I had 
six hundred roubles, saved from rearing poultry, pigs, 
growing flax, and getting presents from the master. 

D 



34 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

If s all gone-Xor," said he whispering, " they think 
so. Some of ^t is buried where they never shall 
clutch it. Ah I the * neimitz' ^ came then. They 
ruined the estate.'* ^ . , ' 

" Who is the * neimitz' T 

"Who indeed? There came here once an Eng- 
lishman as superintendent of these works; I liked 
him. When the men first went to pay their respects 
to him, the poor starved-looking beings told their tale 
in their faces, but poured out also their grievances 
before him. He said that he was only come to supei> 
intend the mechanical processes, that with their social 
relations he had nothing to do ; but whatever was in 
his power he would do to make them comfortable. 
In the mean time he gave them a day's holiday, but 
our German steward forbade them to take it ; ^ That,' 
he said to the Englishman, ' is against all rules. But 
come,' said the sneak, ^ we can make things comfort- 
able by playing into one another's hands. Come to 
my house to-night and take a glass of schnaps, and 
we shall talk the matter over; in the mean time I 
have ordered the engines and works to go on to- 
morrow as usual.' The Englishman turned him out 
of the room, and then got the keys of the factory and 
locked out the work-people, so that they could not go 
to work. The frightened serfs waited about the doors. 
The man who gave the keys to the Enghsh super- 
intendent was flogged by the steward. On the same 
day the Englishman doubled his wages. But he could 
not fight against a fellow who might send what tales 
he pleased to a master in the capital, six hundred 



A OEBMAK STEWABD. 35 

miles away ; so he gave up the contest and left ns to 
our wretchedness." 

It grieves me to tell what I learnt here, and what 
I saw. The old general had left a son in the army, 
who succeeded to the family inheritance. The son, 
immediately on the old man's death, married a very 
pretty German adventuress whom he had met in one 
of the more questionable saloons of Moscow. A 
daughter was bom to them ; and soon afterwards the 
husband was seized with a fit and died in a baU-roOTO, 
also at Moscow. The child being then but three 
years old, the lad/s brother was appointed trustee 
and administrator of the estate until she came of age 
— ^that is to say, was seventeen years old or married. 
This man's whole effort was to enrich himself by ex- 
hausting the wealth of the place during his trustee- 
ship. A German steward was put in, and every 
possible thing was done to grind substance out of the 
poor peasants. The widow, her brother, and daughter 
lived at Moscow in a round of gaiety and dissipation, 
never visiting the estates. The steward was becoming 
very rich. Large sums were being sent to Moscow 
out of mortgages effected ; and instead of the old hap- 
piness and contentment amongst the serfs, there was 
an utter bitterness of destitution. The works were 
not kept in repair nor properly managed, and the 
people, become lazy and sullen, were forced to keep 
the mill going day and night in order to keep up the 
original rate of production. At four o'clock on Sun- 
day afternoon the work began, and never stopped till 
Sunday next at nine A.M., when six hours were allowed 



36 KUSSIAN LIKE. 

for church-going. A double set of hands, working 
alternately, kept the machinery in constant motion : 
one set working for six hours, while the other set lay 
sleeping in comers. A bell was rung at the end of 
each six hours, when the sleepers rose up, and those 
who had been working lay down. This went on 
night and day. Married women brought their babies 
to the factory, where I saw them stuqk in cotton 
baskets, where mothers bred, fed, slept, worked, and 
did all manner of things in the grinding din of work 
— ^morality, decency, or cleanliness, impossible and 
far-off dreams. Indeed, these people had approached 
more nearly to the condition of brutes than I had 
thought possible for men and women ; what I saw 
here and heard elsewhere did, let me own it, turn 
my heart to a strong prejudice against the Eussian 
Germans. This widow of the last male of the R.'s 
was a German; her brother the trustee was a Ger- 
man; his steward was a German; and all of them 
were idle and rapacious voluptuaries. The poor girl 
when she comes of age will find the noble estate left 
by her Eussian grandfather and father ruined irre- 
trievably, and she will be one Eussian /more hating 
the " neimitz." I have no doubt whatever that, should 
a popidar outbreak take place and the pent-up fiiry 
of the peasantry find vent, the first burst of retribu- 
tion and vengeance will fall on this part of the popu- 
lation. 

Even the neimitz who was our travelling com- 
panion did not allow us to reach our journey's end 
until he had played a revengeful trick on one of us, 



BRUTALIZED SERFS. 87 

which made it necessary for us to decide between 
turning him out of our kibitka^ or carrying him on, 
bound, as a prisoner to Moscow. We turned him 
out, and on the morning of the eighth day of a perilous 
and fatiguing journey, reached Moscow without him. 



CHAPTER in. 

THE GREAT NATIONAL EAILWAY LINE. 

On a good Russian map of Russia, between Peters- 
burg and Moscow, there is a red line drawn. That 
is the line of the Great National Railway. It is 
almost straight ; it has no curves, no tunnels, in its 
whole distance of six hundred and twenty versts. It 
was, when made, a great deal longer than that ; the 
government was charged seven hundred and twenty 
versts, and the line shrank to its present length after 
the contractors and officials interested were all paid. 
Thus the length of this line has always been in the 
Russian archives matter of doubt. Several persons, 
however, got their free passage to Siberia for counting 
the versts as seven hundred and twenty. There are 
also verst-posts now put up, and the number of these 
is a hundred less. 

The Emperor Nicholas was not pleased with the 
plans first drawn for this line. There were too many 
twists and curves made, to accommodate towns lying 
about the route, to facilitate the traffic of the country 
between the two capitals. This was not his aim ; he 
had his own use for a railway. It was a way to 
convey soldiers swiftly and directly to and from Mos- 



THE GREAT NATIONAL RAILWAY LINE. 39 

COW. The straighter the line, the better for this pur- 
pose; so he took his pencil, drew it straight across 
the map from point to point between the two cities, 
and said, "Make the railway there," His line, of 
course, was adopted ; and thus Nicholas was the off- 
hand engineer of a great railway, distinguished from 
all others by the fact that it does not pass through, or 
very near, any town but one in its whole course. The 
immense tract of country lying on both sides between 
Moscow and Petersburg has been, therefore, very little 
the better for railway communication : more particu- 
larly as not one branch line has been formed in con- 
nection with the main Kne. 

When the line was finished, it was found that 
there would not be full work for it as a military road; 
so there was granted, as a great favour to the in- 
Ibabitants of the two extreme cities, liberty to travel 
up and down it. After this they built magnificent 
refreshment-stations and engine-depots at convenient 
distances ; and now this is one of the finest, safest, 
best-arranged, and most comfortable travelling4ines 
in the world. The speed of travelling is limited to 
twenty miles an hour. The shortest stoppage is for 
ten minutes, allowing plenty of time to drink a cup 
of tea and smoke a cigarette; but at each of the 
principal stations the train stops for half an hour. 
Hot well- cooked dinners, breakfasts, and suppers, 
served by dean well-dressed waiters, are always 
ready. There is plenty of time to eat, and the price 
is not very high. Again, in travelling, a firsts or 
second-class passenger can walk from one end of the 



40 RUSSIAN LIFE, 

train to the other. The carriages are excellent, and 
built on the American plan ; with a passage up the 
centre, seats at right angles to the passage, doors in 
the ends of the cars, and no division any where. 
The guard has an assistant at the door of every car- 
. riage. The Russian third-class carriages are superior 
to the English second, and the second-class are quite 
equal to our first. Smoking is universal at all the 
railway stations, — even the ladies accept offers of 
cigars. The fares are, between Moscow and Peters- 
burg (four hundred and eleven miles): third-class, 
ten roubles (thirty shillings) ; second, thirteen roubles 
(thirty-nine shillings) ; first, seventeen roubles (fifty- 
one shillings). As a night has always to be passed 
in the carriages, each passenger brings two pillows : 
the first-class pillows are encased in silk, the second 
in calico, the third in any thing. These pillows add 
cushions to the seats, and support the back by day, 
and form by night excellent extemporised beds. The 
Russians make a journey to and from Moscow an 
affair of pleasure, sleep and eat alternately, gorman- 
dising at all stations where refreshments can be had ; 
not crowding them, — that is impossible, the rooms 
being so large as to accommodate from six hundred 
to eight hundred persons at once. The passengers 
do strict justice to the good things on the tables, find 
fault freely, and order what they require as if they 
were at home in a good hotel. After the gutta-percha 
pork-pies, mahogany cakes, and sawdust sandwiches, 
bolted standing in the English refreshment-rooms, it 
is pleasant to sit down comfortably when one is tired 



THE GREAT NATIONAL RAILWAY LINE. 41 

and hungry — ^napkin on knee — ^to a half-hour's quiet 
discussion of a well-cooked meal. Beef, lamb, mut- 
ton, vegetables, fowl, game, potatoes, fish, cutlets, 
cheese, and dessert, are served by civil waiters, in 
black clothes and white cravats, at the small charge 
of one rouble (three shillings) each. One can also 
dine very well for half this sum at the side-table. 

A place called BuUagonie is the centre station : 
there the up- and down-trains meet on opposite lines, 
and pour out their motley freights into the grand 
dining-saloon, to the number of four hundred firom 
each train. Officers of all grades emerge in dashing 
uniforms ; fine ladies in silks and brocades ; lacqueys 
and attendants on the same in parti-coloured liveries ; 
fat, greasy, long-bearded Eussian merchants, their 
wives and daughters sparkling with rings and pins, 
chains, bracelets, and all manner of jewelry ; Ger- 
man stewards, Turks and Greeks, Tartars, Circas- 
sians, Armenians, Jews, French, German, and English 
travellers for pleasure or for business; Enghsh and 
American engineers and mechanics; Eussians, of 
divers provinces, with beards and without, in long 
caflans, long boots, long hair, with long faces and 
short purses; Eussian women without hats or bon- 
nets, their heads bound in handkerchiefs ; and a host 
of nondescript creatures, which appear to belong to 
nothing known on earth or under the earth. They 
dine in twenty minutes, and then fall to smoking 
and to drinking beer, tea, spirits, wine— champagne 
among the rest — ^until the second bell sounds. There 
are three bells, with an interval of five minutes be- 



42 BUSSIAir UFK. 

tween each ringing: the Russians cross themselves 
at the second bell, take the last puff, throw the rest 
of the cigar away, and then leisurely saunter each 
to his carriage. The last bell having sounded, gently 
and slowly the trains take their departure, — one to 
Moscow and the other to Petersburg. There is no 
hurry, no crushing, squeezing, running, or losing 
seats ; yet sometimes a stranger will get out at the 
wrong side, get into the wrong train, and be fairly on 
the way back to his starting-point before he finds out 
his mistake. 

A rather curious case of this kind happened on 
one of my journeys to Moscow. An old lavishnick, 
or shopkeeper of the peasant class, was my vis-itrvi8 
in a second-class carriage. He might be sixty years 
of age; and, with his long white beard and hair, 
broad face and forehead, large hooked nose, calm and 
wondering eyes, loose caftan, broad belt, and long 
wide boots, he looked quite Abrahamic. Evidently 
he had never been on rails before. When we started 
from Petersburg he reverently crossed himself three 
times, and then gave himself up to whatever might 
come, with patient faith. As we proceeded he be- 
came astonished at the. awful speed of twenty miles 
an hour, and I had to undergo a deal of cross-ques- 
tioning : " Was I Neimitz ?" « No.'^ " An Ameri- 
canskyf "No." "Then you are an Anglichan?" 
"Yes." 

" Have you iron roads in England?" 

"Yes — ^many." 

"How many I" 



BEWILDERED PEASANTS. 43 

" One almost to every town and village." 

A long pause ensued after this answer; it took 
time to get it down. 

"And do they go as fast as we are going now?" 

" Some three times faster." 

" O, sir, you are joking with an old man." 

Of course he did not believe me. When we got 
to Bullagonie he got put like the rest, and in the 
dining-saloon I saw him meet a friend who belonged 
to the Moscow train : they kissed and shook hands 
over and over again, and then sat down to eat and 
talk and drink, all of which they did with a relish. 
When the second beU rang they got up with the 
rest, and in earnest conversation took their way to 
our train, got in, and sat down side by side. I found 
my new friend even more primitive than the other. 
As the train started the crossing was resumed, and 
then I had to undergo another fire of questions. 
Endeavouring to amuse these patriarchs as well as I 
could, the time passed until we were approaching a 
station two hours from Bullagonie. 

"How different," said one, "is this from the old 
road to Moscow 1 It took seven days and about a 
hundred horses. Now we do it without horses in 
twenty hours." 

" Yes," said the other ; " and see how fast it goes 
with such a heavy load. I cannot understand how 
the steam drags it along. This gentleman says that 
in England the steam is stronger, and they go sixty 
vearsts an hour ; but it is a romance." 

"It is wonderful; but" — and a bright idea seemed 



44 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

to come into the speaker's head — "the most wonder- 
ful thing to me is, that here I am going to Petersburg 
and you to Moscow, and yet here we are in one car- 
riage. Railways are wonderful things. I cannot 
understand it." 

There was general laughter ; and the simple old 
man, who had spoken in good time, was put out at 
the station, there to wait the next day's train. Many 
tales of this kind are told of the bewildered notions of 
the peasantry concerning railways. 

The country through which this railway runs is 
a weary waste of bog and stunted wood. The eye 
and the mind sicken at the eternal sameness of the 
dreary prospect, as hour after hour passes and there 
is no change for the better. A dozen or two appa- 
rently of mud heaps — ^in reality of wooden huts — ^in 
the centre of a barren plain, stand for a village. A 
stranger might pass many such without knowing 
them to be human habitations: beavers are better 
housed. If we look narrowly, we may perceive that 
the ground for some distance around these places has 
been scratched over, and that the vegetation is of rye 
and beet, struggling out of the hungry earth. The 
want of fences, trees, parks, animal or human life, 
makes it difficult to believe that such growths repre- 
sent cultivation. The principal stations are tastefully 
surrounded with gardens and trees, and have in their 
neighbourhood excellent dwelling-houses for the su- 
perintendents and workmen engaged in the engine- 
depot; but the moment we pass these oases, the 
desert begins again. 



AMERICAN CONTRACTORS. 45 

The Tver station is the most important on the 
line, for here is the navigable commencement of that 
long river, the Volga, from which comes much wealth 
of graiQ, flax, hemp, timber, and all kinds of raw pro- 
duce, not forgetting the sturgeon, and, to a Russian, 
its delicious " eckra," or caviare. At Tver, also, the 
traveller by rail may see, as he passes, two or three , 
immense cotton-mills, suggestive of protective duties, ' 
with dear calicoes and prints, rich machine-makers 
and agents, sallow cheeks of peasant boys and girls, 
condenmed to night work and day slavery. The 
Great National Railway Line has never paid the 
government a single copeck. It has, however, made 
large fortunes for several American contractors, who, ^j ^ 
for a fixed sum per verst, furnish engines and car- 
riages, and keep the line in repair. Their contract 
is now about to terminate, but it has been of so ex- 
traordinary a character as to make it one of the 
curiosities of Russia. Nicholas himself always re- 
commended strangers to see the American railway J ' 
contract, as one of his greatest curiosities. It must 
be said, however, that if the American contractors 
were cute enough to make an amazing bargain, they 
have kept the line in splendid order ; and up to this 
moment it is not too much to say that there are not 
better carriages, finer engines, and a better plant in 
the world, than are to be found on the Petersburg 
and Moscow Railway. 



CHAPTER IV. 

AMONG THE HORSEKEEPEKS AT MOSCOW. 

But my travel now extends more than five hnn- 
dred English miles beyond the railway; and at Mos- 
cow I must give myself np to the tender mercies of 
yeamshicks, tarantasses, hack -horses, indescribaMe 
and unknown roads, filthy inns, and abominable sta- 
tion-houses. In an evil hour I had made a business- 
engagement in the south of Russia, which would 
require more than twelve months' residence on the 
spot ; and as the chmate and country were said to 
be fine, and a first-class residence, with other good 
things, were promised, I took my whole family with 
me, determined to make a pleasure-trip of it, if pos- 
sible. So, I had with me a wife and half-a-dozen 
young children ; also a handy man, who had just 
arrived fix)m England seeking work, aud who went 
to assist in the practical part of the business I had 
undertaken. This man turned out an invaluable 
friend for a rough journey, and an excellent comrade 
in all outdoor sports. He had broad shoulders, and 
the most powerful arms I ever saw. The only diffi- 
culty I had with him was to keep him from using 



TRAVELLING IN THE INTERIOR. 47 

his anns like sledge-hammers on Bussians of every 
degree, for real or imaginary outrages on our dignity 
as true-born Englishmen. And as he did not under- 
stand one word of Buss, he was constantly the prey 
of false imaginations. 

A journey of eight hundred versts in Bussia is 
an undertaking of some risk for able-bodied men; 
but if females and children are added, there is need ' 
of more than ordinary care in deciding on the best 
method of taking it. So, in an English lodging- 
house, on the second day of my arrival in Moscow, 
I held after-dinner consultation with four or five ex- 
perienced Englishmen, who bad accomplished similar 
journeys. Each was loud on behalf of the particular 
plan he had himself adopted. One was clearly in 
favour of the government diligence as far as it 
went ; but as this involved constant travelling with- 
out stopping for five nights and days, at a cost of 
twenty-five roubles each, on the chaussee ; and after 
that, two hundred versts across the country, without 
stopping for rest, — the children might probably fall 
sick, the women be knocked-up, and we might be 
left in some outlandish desert to recover health or 
strength. I was against that method of travel. 

"Bargain, then, with a yeamshick to take you 
right through, all the way, with one set of horses. 
You can stop when you like." 

"Ay," said another, "and you'll have to stop 
when you don't like, and as long as he may choose, 
to rest the horses. You'll be twenty days on the 
road." 



48 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

"That," I said, "is not a promising method of 
travel." 

" Then get a padaroshni, and take the free post. 
So yon can go forward or stop to recruit as yon are 
inclined." 

"Never do that," said another; "you will be de- 
tained at the stations hours and hours, waiting for 
' horses, in spite of your padaroshni. It will take you 
as long to get to your journey's end as if you travelled 
with one set, and it will cost three times the money. 
I stick by the government diligence." 

" Come," I said, to my helping hand, "let us go 
and see what bargain we can make with the yeam- 
shicks. I would rather make the journey leisurely; 
twenty days is certainly too much, but let us hear 
what they say." 

Off we went to the quarter where the posting 
establishments of these people are situated. There 
was no difficulty in finding it ; but as I crossed the 
bridge and went down into the low quarter sacred to 
yeamshicks and their teams, I felt inclined to cross 
myself, like a good Bussian. It was getting dark; 
the streets, houses, and people had a villanous, black, 
hang-dog look. I could almost have turned back, but 
it was too late. We looked like customers, and, be- 
fore we could turn round, were surrounded by some 
twenty or thirty rival yeamshicks, who rushed out 
upon us from yawning twisted wooden gateways and 
small tumble-down houses. 

"I want two troikas to go as far as Karkoff. 
Where are your horses and conveyances?" 



AMONG THE HORSEKEEPEBS AT MOSCOW. 49 

*^Here — Ihis way, baron,** 

And I was good-natiiredly, but with firm de- 
cision, dragged through a dismal archway into a dirty 
court-yard, surrounded by sheds propped at all sorts 
of angles upon wdoden posts. In these sheds were 
horses by the score, cattle that currycomb had never 
scratched nor wisp of straw defiled. By this time 
fifty drivers had assembled ; and as nothing pleases a 
Russian so well as a good stiff bargain, I began my 
offers at the lowest figure. 

^^For two tarantasses, six horses, and straw for 
each to Karkoff, in ten days; if more time is taken, a 
reduction of ten roubles per day — forty roubles." 

"Baron! my lord! your excellency! say one 
hundred roubles and fifteen days.'* 

"No; forty." 

"Go, then.'* 

"No; forty-five." 

^^ Eighty. Horses like deer and excellent car- 
riages for eighty !" 

This went on until I got to sixty roubles, then to 
seventy. 

"Now hear my last word. I'll give seventy if 

" Here the contending parties having, as they 

imagined, brought me to the point, began to pull me 
hither and thither, each that he might secure me to 
himself. I was first pulled to this side, then lifted to 
the other, and my hat fell off in the confdsion. My 
handy man with the strong arms had been jostled to 
the outside of the circle, not understanding a word of 
our discourse ; but when he saw, as he thought, vio- 

E 



50 BUBSIAN LIFE. 

lent hands laid on me, he sprang among the fifty 
drivers, and a right and left hand blow from his 
sledge-hammers sent down two who had hold of me 
to bite the dust. Before I could stop him, down 
went another two: "There, you muck varmint, TU 
handle you ! Til lam you to lay hands on a f reebom 
Englishman!" His eye lighting on the spoke of an 
old broken cart-wheel, in another moment he was 
flourishing it high in the air and chasing the poor BSn 
tonished fellows round the yard. "Now," he said, 
panting as he came up to me, " let's bolt, gov'nur ; 
t'road's clear." 

I thought it high time to escape, and we both 
made a rush to the street, but just in time to fall into 
the hands of four police. My handy man dropped 
his cudgel in presence of the cutlasses, and amid the 
yells and shouts of a great crowd, which, however, did 
not follow us, we were marched through the streets to 
the poUce-office. 

One of our captors questioned me on the way; but 
I prudently replied in their oflScial language, by sim- 
ply putting a rouble into the hands of each soldier. 
That explained every thing. When we got into the 
presence of the district magistrate, an officer in blue 
clothes and brass buttons (a chinovnick), I made no 
reply to any of his questions, but only shook my head, 
while several of the yeamshicks making their appear- 
ance with bruised heads and faces, told their tale: 
how that they were quietly bargaining with me, and 
had nearly concluded, when that mad Englishman 



AMONG THE H0BSEKEEPEB8 AT MOSCOW. 51 

rushed amongst them with a great iron bar and in- 
flicted all the wounds his excellency saw. 

" Where is the iron bar? Soldiers, why did you 
not bring the iron bar with you ?" 

"There was no iron bar, your honour, and we 
saw no fighting. These two Englishmen, who can 
speak no Russian (that is value for one rouble), were 
quietly leaving the yard (good for another). We 
would not have brought them here, but these pigs of 
yeamshicks were like to devour them (well worth a 
third), so we took charge of them for safety." (Value 
received : four roubles.) 

" Here, Vasilia, tell the interpreter to come from 
the Stone Cabinet;" and to my astonishment there 
entered one of the guests I had left at the dinner-table* 

He looked at us a moment, as a perfect stranger 
would, and turning to the magistrate, said, " What i& 
your pleasure?" 

"Be pleased to ask them how this affair hap- 
pened." 

"I am astonished to find you here;, but tell me 
what it means," said the interpreter. 

I told hun plainly and truly, and said that as I did 
not want to pass a night in the office, if ten roubles 

would be of any use "O!" he said, "that is the 

very thing to settle the whole question ; give them 
to me." After getting the roubles, he turned to the 
magistrate, and I heard him explaining the case ex- 
actly as I told it. The magistrate laughed heartily 
at my handy man's mistake. f^But why pretend 
ignorance of the language here ?" he said to me. 



/ 



52 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

^ I was afraid my tongue might get us into trouble 
with imperfect Buss. But had I known you better, I 
should have told all at once.'* 

"Come here," he said to the yeamshicks. "Ye 
sons of dogs, here are four roubles from this gentle- 
man to heal your faces, but take care you don't come 
hither again with such a lying tale about a mad 
EngUshman and an iron bar. Begone, pigs T They 
received the money and bowed themselves out, evi- 
dently well pleased with this morsel of justice. 

On the way home, I asked the English interpreter 
what was done with the other six roubles! 

"Hush!" he said; "I suppose they have neg- 
lected to give back the change." 

" Shall I run back and ask for it f 

^^ I think you had better not. Let well alone." 

But, my day's adventures with the poUce were 
not over. No sooner had I returned to my lodgings, 
than I found fresh trouble. My wife had laid down 
a diamond-ring on the washing-stand in her room 
when washing her hands, and had left it there. It 
was gone; so was a Bussian girl, a servant of the 
house, who was the only person who had been in the 
room. Now, the ring being a favourite, and received 
on a momentous occasion, my wife was resolved to 
get it back, and she had taken instant measures for 
the purpose, just as she would have done in England: 
forgetting for the moment that she was in Bussia, 
where no stolen property ever is got back. She had 
found some body to show her the nearest police-office, 
had gone there, and had given information of her 



POLICE, 53 

loss. Her statement had been taken down on a large 
document, which it had taken an hour to write; and 
this she had signed. After her return to the house 
two police-officers, who had come to make minute 
investigation of the premises, had asked and received 
food and vodka. They had also written out another 
long document, which both the landlord and my wife 
had to sign, and then they had gone away, saying 
that she should have to appear to-morrow again, and 
be reexamined by the chief of the police. This was 
the state of things I found, on coming in. My wife 
was beginning to cool, and to perceive also that it was 
one thing to lose a diamond-ring in Russia, and quite 
another thing to hope to get it back. I took my hat 
without saying a word, and made for the police-office 
as fast as an " isvostchick" could take me, with the 
pleasant sense of another ten roubles gone. Making 
my way to the chief officer on duty, I said, " Pray 
excuse me, your honour. My wife has been here 
about a diamond-ring?" 

" O yes, that affair is all in hand ; we have taken 
two depositions already, and to-morrow we shall take 
a third. After that we shall want your testimony 
about the ring being in your wife's possession, and a 
description of it : where it was made, and its value. 
We shall then begin to took out for the girl." 

" You are very kind. There is no doubt of your 
zeal in the affair, but I am come to say it is all a 
mistake on my wife's part. She has made a very im- 
lucky mistake about this ring," 

" How so, sir? After all the trouble she has put 



54 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

US toy she has not lost the ring ? A fine stoiy ! But 
the case must go on.'* 

*^ Yes, she is quite aware of, and sorry for, the 
great trouhle yon have had ; and there are ten roubles 
as a recompense for that trouble, and there are two 
for the clerks. She will take it as a great fevour if 
you will do no more in the matter. Just let it pass 
as the mistake of a woman. Now, will you be so 
kind as to stop all further proceedings in this matter?** 

^' Why — ah I — ^yes ; you see it is against rule this. 
But as the papers hare not gone before the chief, it 
can be done, I daresay. I am glad you have found 
the ring. You shall hear no more of it. Adieu T* 

We had veiy nearly been in for six months' wait- 
ing in Moscow, and endless worry and expense, with- 
out the most remote chance of recovering the stolen 
trinket. 



CHAPTEK V. 

PROM MOSCOW TO TULA.' 

I HAVE a journey from Moscow southward of eight 
hmidred versts before me; and the sooner I am off 
the better, for have I not, for no fault of my own, 
been twice in the hands of the police, and has it not 
cost me in two days four pounds for bribery? A 
long land-journey in Kussia with one's wife and 
children is a thing to flinch from: but I desired 
to see Bussia to its innermost; I desired also, yet 
more, to fulfil my engagements, and having already 
come six htmdred versts upon the way, I could not, 
as an Englishman, turn back. Having decided, 
therefore, on the ^^padaroshni" and the fr'ee post 
route, I hastened to the governor-general's oflSce, but 
was told that a padaroshni was not needed for that 
road. 

" Go to the free post-office, show your passport, 
and you will get horses and tarantasses as far as you 
may require on the main road," 

At the office referred to, which was at the other 
end of Moscow, I opened a negotiation for six horses 
and two conveyances. They had a fixed price of 
four kopecks, or three-halfpence, per horse per verst 



56 BUSSIAN LIFE, 

(a verst being about two-thirds of a mile) as far as 
Tula, then of three kopecks to Orel, and after that to 
Kharkov, or Charkoff, two-and-a-half kopecks, or 
rather less than a penny. For each of the taran- 
tasses the charge was five roubles, or about fifteen and 
sixpence ; to which had to be added ten roubles for 
road-money or tolls — in all the cost was about two- 
and-twenty pounds. After travelling thus on the 
main road, I was to. leave it and proceed as best I 
could, for another one hundred and eighty versts, 
across the country, with roads or without. By 
adopting this plan I could travel at what rate I 
chose, as the conveyances were my own for the time 
being. 

In the bottom then of two tarantasses we packed 
our trunks, portmanteaus, and carpet-bags as smoothly 
as possible, covered them first with straw, and then 
with feather-beds and many pillows, rugs, and blan* 
kets ; while bread, tea, sugar, sardines, brandy, wine, 
pistol-case, blunderbuss (belonging to our friend 
Harry), fur-coats, cloaks, felt-boots with legs reach- 
ing up to the hips, and a mass of small miscellaneous 
luggage for the younger travellers, filled up the 
corners, or were hung round the inside of the 
vehicles, and boxes were strapped on the outside 
with strong ropes. 

We saw the last of Bussian civilisation as we 
passed out by the gate at twelve A.M., and dashed on 
at full stretch, changing horses at every sixteen or 
eighteen versts. Station after station passed and no 
rest from the bumping and jostling ; but the road 



TBA.YBL BY FREE FOST. 57 

here waa first-rate, and the arrangements with the 
beds and pillows turned out famously. Let no man, 
still less woman or child, travel in a tarantass without 
such safety-breaJks between the bones and the hard 
wood. We stopped at four o'clock, went into a 
station-house, asked for the urn, and dined on tea, 
sardines, and bread. Then off again at the same 
speed. Sundry bottles of milk-and-water, with more 
solid victual, served for our family supper, eaten as 
we ran. After this, the children sang themselves to 
sleep, while Harry and I, fortified with brandy-and- 
water and pistols, mounted guard on separate boxes 
by the drivers, to be ready against mischance during 
the night. All went well during the small hours, 
except that watchful Harry fell jfrom his box into a 
ditch. We had to stop and pick him out. Soon 
afterwards he nodded his fiir-cap into the road, and 
when we were obliged to pull up and search for it, 
attacked the driver for having knocked it off. 

At three o'clock, we lumbered into a town called 
Serpuchov, passing, as we entered, a large cotton-mill 
lighted up with gas, and even at that hour in full 
work. Here occurred one of those imforeseen troubles 
which mar Russian travelling, and bring out the in- 
ventive money-making powers of the native. It was 
December. " The little winter " had brought ice and 
snow; thaw following, had melted these; then frost 
enough had set in again to harden the roads, without 
making the rivers safe for crossing. Now, it happens 
that the river Ova, which rises in the south country, 
^ear Koursk, and falls into the Volga near Nishni 



58 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

Novgorod, running through or by this town of Sep- 
puchoT, here lay across our path. But the pontoon 
bridge had been as usual removed for the winter ; the 
river was enough frozen to prevent boats or barges 
from crossing, and so we were told that here we must 
wait two or three days, until the ice could be crossed 
safely by horses and carriages. More than a hundred 
travelling equipages, thus brought to a stand-still, 
were drawn up on the banks, and every hour more 
were arriving. All the inns and lodging-houses were 
filled by the grumbhngs of river- and ice-bound tra- 
vellers. Bread, tea, and all the necessaries of life, 
including lodgings, had risen in price four hundred 
per cent. Even a samovar, or vm of hot water, could 
not be had under a rouble. By six o'clock we had 
managed to obtain one of these excellent articles, and 
got a capital breakfast out of our own stores, the 
breakfast-room being the two tarantasses placed to- 
gether. We had come too late to find other shelter, 
and many about us were in a like position. The 
delay continued until ten o'clock, when the cold was 
becoming unendurable. Help then appeared in the 
person of a very well-dressed, polite, and civil gentle- 
man, a baron and landholder of the neighbourhood. 
He took a philanthropic interest in our condition, 
bewailed with us, and sympathised with us to our 
hearts' content, but he said, " It must be endured !" 

"What!" I cried, '^two or three days starving 
here in the cold with women and children ?" 

"Yes, here at Serpuchov the river won't bear for 
that time. Now, at my place, twenty versts down, 



AN UNSAFE RrVBK. 59 

the river is already quite firm all the way across. If 
you were all iherey you could get over easily^ and 
then 'cross country a few versts to the main road,'' 

"But this is much better than waiting here I 
And how are we to get to your place ?** 

"Ah I" he said, "if my time would permit, I 
should be happy to show the way ; I have spoken to 
some others, and they are imploring me to go." 

" Well, then, let me implore you also. But" — 
and I hesitated to ask the question of a baron and 
landowner — "how much will you expect for your 
trouble?" 

"O," he said, "you insult me now by such a 
question! Am I a Moscovsky dog, or a Chinovnick, 
to take money for an act of kindness? A little for 
my men, who must assist, is all it will cost." 

" Well, let us go, and with all my heart I thank 
you for delivering us out of this difficulty.'* 

By the time a bargain had been made with the 
drivers for fresh horses, and another guinea paid for 
each conveyance (because my posting receipt did not 
include this deviation from the main road), I found 
more than a dozen other equipages ready to start 
with us. But they all took care to keep behind, 
and let us have the post of honour, since it might 
be also the post of danger. We were preceded, 
however, by our kind, disinterested baron, who was 
leading the way in a light car drawn by a good black 
horse. There was no road, nor semblance of a road. 
Our course lay through woods, fields, and ditches ; 
over hills, and down into pathless valleys, for the 



60. RUSSIAN UFB. 

most part as uncultivated as the prairies of America, 
but not so fertile. At length, after four hours of 
horrible jolting, and many hair-breadth escapes froni 
overturning, our caravan arrived at the point indi- 
cated. We drew up on the bank of the river, and 
surveyed the scene. The river itself might be four 
hundred feet broad; the opposite shore was steep 
and precipitous. To within thirty feet of the banks 
the ice seemed to be strong and firm, but for these 
thirty feet, it was entirely free of ice, and a black 
gulf of deep and rapid running water lay between. 
This must be bridged across. The baron gave a 
peculiar whistle, and soon about twenty men — ^his 
Qwn serfs — ^from the opposite bank made their way 
across the ice, and where the open current at our 
feet prevented them from getting to us, they stopped 
and began jabbering, ordering, and crying, without 
any sign of an idea as to what should be done. But 
my handy friend Harry, taking an axe from the tar 
rantass, made for the nearest wood, and began cut- 
ting down trees. Two of them we managed to 
drag to the river, and throw, with one end across to 
the solid ice, the other resting on the bank. The 
baron's men then came to land, and a bridge was 
soon made by them, under Harry's direction. Then 
the question was, who would venture cattle and 
conveyance across the slender and extemporised 
path? The Russians all positively refused to stir, 
$0 the Englishmen made the first passage, and 
succeeded in getting safely to the ice; thence we 
crawled very cautiously to the other side, and so 



Harry's bridge. 61 

got safely to land with all our traps. Not so some 
of the Kussians. 

It may easily be supposed that Harry^s bridge was 
not so strong and durable as London Bridge, and he 
knew this, for he said to me, after we were fairly over, 
" Some of yon Russians had better mind their eyes 
with that bridge. Fifteen tarantasses and forty-five 
horses '11 try its mettle." And presently, indeed, the 
bridge did give way in the centre, leaving a few of 
the main trees at intervals, and with it down went 
a tarantass into deep water, dragging its three horses 
after it. The poor brutes struggled hard, but being 
tied with strong ropes to the vehicle, they fought 
in vain ; down they were drawn farther and farther 
below the ice. The Russians looked on and crossed 
themselves. The driver of the struggling horses had 
sunk with them, and was entangled in the harness, 
a rope being twisted about one of his legs. He was 
making desperate efforts to free himself, and had got 
hold of one of the cross-trees forming part of the 
bridge, but the struggling of the sinking horses soon 
pulled him off. At this moment Harry slid along the 
tree, holding by his powerful arms, and with his body 
in the river. I saw a knife in his teeth, and in less 
time than I can tell, he swung himself round, holding 
on by one arm, and bending forward so that his face 
touched the water. Then drawing his knife from 
his teeth, he severed the rope that bound the un- 
lucky driver. The lad's strength was exhausted. 
He lost his hold on the tree, and sunk; but as he 
rose a second time, perfectly helpless, Harry seized 



62 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

his long hair, and having dragged him by main 
strength out of the water, laid him across the tree, 
and graduallj slid himself and his helpless burden 
to the bank. 

I shouted to him to leave the man's recovery to 
the care of his countrymen, and come over instantly 
for brandy and dry clothes. He came across the 
same tree like a cat, and ran to the other side. 
Brandy was applied liberally, both inside and out, 
clothes were dragged from the trunk to replace the 
wet and frozen ones. The chafing, rubbing, un- 
dressing, dressing, and running about to keep up 
the circulation, consumed some time, during which 
the broken bridge had been repaired. All the 
quadrupeds, bipeds, wheeled conveyances, and their 
freights, had been safely got across, except the one 
we saw go down with its three horses, and the poor 
young driver. "Where is he?" I asked a traveller. 

"O," said he, with the shrug indifferent, "he 
lies yonder where your friend left him. I think he's 
dead." 

" Good God!" I cried, "among so many of you 
has nothing been done to bring back life? Did you 
suffer him to lie freezing to death ?" 

^' Why, you see, he does not belong to any one 
here ; besides, he might have been dead when he was 
brought out of the water, and if so we dare not touch 
him till the * stanovog ' comes." 

"And when will the stanovog come?" 

" God knows," he said (with the shrug doubtful) ; 
"to-morrow or next day, or perhaps longer. The 



BAB SAKABITANS. Q8 

man is only a serf. God did it. Whaf s to be done ? 
Let him lie." 

"Whatl God did iti Did not God help my 
friend to place him on the bank that you might save 
him ? And you have let him perish for want of a 
little aid. Come, Harry, you and I will see what can 
be done for him, if there be any life left. Bring the 
brandy, and give me those rugs." 

"Listen," said the same traveller in broken 
English, and speaking low, that none of the rest 
might hear: "I like the English, and I tell you to 
let him go dead; you are getting much trouble if 
you touch him more. The baron wiU make you pay 
much money. G^ gone directly. That is my advice, 
take it." 

"Your advice be " cried Harry. The 

[Russian gave the shrug conclusive, and left us to 
our fate. 

When we got across the river again we found the 
poor fellow lying just where and as Harry had laid 
him down. All perceptible Kfe was gone, and he 
was fast stiffening into a frozen lump. We did all 
that we could, but rubbing, pouring, chafing with 
brandy, were without effect ; no one assisted us, no 
one even looked in our direction. Harry had no 
doubt that he was alive when he left him, and might 
then have easily been recovered, but all efforts were 
now in vain. An hour had elapsed, and, forced to 
conclude that he was past saving, we reluctantly left 
him, and returned to our anxious and weary women 
and children. 



64 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

All was soon ready for a start tip the alps. The 
other travellers had settled accormts with the baron 
(for three roubles each conveyance ; my son, who had 
seen them paying, told me), and they were straggling 
lip the precipitous banks, assisted by the serfs with 
ropes and poles. It seemed a desperate undertaking, 
for the formidable precipices we had to encounter 
rose shaft after shaft in a zigzag manner, and the 
slippery pathway was only about ten feet broad, with 
no ledges or parapets to save a vehicle from tumbling 
over, should the horses slip or run back; and the 
cattle were cold and tired, the roads were a mass of 
slippery ice. However, we determined to go with 
the rest. The women and children began the ascent 
on foot, and we were about to make a dash up the 
first acclivity, when our worthy and disinterested 
baron stepped forward, all smiles and bows, and said 
I must pay him the small sum of thirty roubles (more 
than four pounds ten). 

" Thirty roubles !" I said ; " and pray what for V* 

"For helping you across the river.'' 

"Why, you avaricious rascal, we have helped our- 
selves across. I shall give your men a little, but to 
you not a kopeck. You are no Moscovsky dog nor 
Chinovnick, you know." 

" It may be so," he said ; " you should not have 
come. Now you are here, what's to be done? You 
must pay, before you leave here, thirty roubles." 

"Not a kopeck to you; but I shall give half a 
rouble to every one of your men who helps us to get 
safely up these hills.'* 



FATING THE BABOK. €5 

"Not one of these men dares lift a hand to help 
tuiless I tell him. I am master here. You are now 
on my ground and in my power. Pay you must. 
Besides," and here a peculiar grin illuminated his 
monkey features, " am I not acting against law to 
let you go on any terms? Do you not know that 
you have drowned a moushick, and must answer to 
the police f I have sent for the stanovog, and if you 
don't now pay me fifty roubles, I shall detain you till 
he comes." 

I became perfectly speechless at the rascal's cool 
effrontery; and as he advanced with some of his 
men to lay hands on me, lost, naturally enough, all 
thought of consequences, and struck him a straight- 
forward blow, which sent him staggering back a few 
yards. " Now we are in for it, Harry ; strong mea- 
sures and sharp. Catch him by the neck ; punch his 
head when I tell you." 

"All right. That's your style," cried Harry; 
and, catching him with one hand, with the other he 
administered one of his gentle taps on one side of the 
baron's faxje, which no doubt made the sparks fly in 
his eyes. 

" Turn t'other side, my lord," cried Harry ; and, 
shifting his hold, he repeated the blow on the other 
cheek. I cannot tell how long this would have con- 
tinued, had I not begged Harry to desist. The 
serfs seemed to be perfectly paralysed at our auda- 
city. Their baron, their tyrant, their cruel task- 
master, was catching it in his turn. They did not 
seem to be in a violent hurry to help him. In fact, I 

p 



66 BUSSIAK UFE. 

coiild see a look of composed satisfaction and enjoy- 
ment on their faces. But this mood was not to be 
depended on, and two men are too few to cope with 
twenty. 

" Pitch him into^ the tarantass, Harry, and see 
that he does not get out. That's it ! Hand me the 
pistols. Now look here, you ruffian, who disgrace 
the name of a gentleman," and I pulled from under 
my vest a certain medal with the imperial ribbon 
attached to it. " See this ; look well ; I am under 
the imperial protection, and if ^^ But tiie mo- 
ment his eye caught the well-known stripes, his 
cheeks, which had been crimsoned by the boxing of 
his ears, were blanched with visions of Siberia. He 
became on the instant as servile and crouching as 
he had before been insolent. 

" Ah," he said, ^^I am in fault. Pardon me, my 
honourable sir. Let me out of this, to repair my 
blunder. Dogs, pigs, why don't you help the gospo- 
din? Ah, sir! why did you not teU me at first? 
Pardon 1 I did not know! Crod help me! I am 
lost." 

" Remain where you are ; and if my property and 
these conveyances go over any of these precipices, 
you shall go with them." 

Harry danced round the fallen great man in 
perfect ecstasies, shaking his great fists in his face, 
and hardly to be restrained from giving him what he 
eulogised as " a jolly good thrashing." 

The serfs now lent their aid with a will, under 
promise of a reward. So, after a long time and many 



RISKS OF MERCY. 67 

narrow escapes, we reached the high ground, and 
were once more free to pursue the journey. The 
baron was liberated ; the money was paid to the . 
serfs, which might afterwards be taken from them ; 
and oflF we drove, carrying one of them, as pilot, 
across Ihe country, thirty-five versts, to gain the Tula 
road^ which we did not reach until about two hours 
after midnight. 

It may here be noticed that since ten the previous 
morning we had had no regular meals, and I did not 
now think it safe to remain in the neighbourhood. 
Obtaining, therefore, fresh cattle, we set off again for 
Tula, which we ultimately reached at noon, very cold, 
very tired, and very hungry. 

But for the difficulty in crossing the Serpuchov 
river, we might have been in Tula twenty hours 
sooner, quite fresh and ready to proceed with the 
second division of our journey. But now, for the 
sake of the weaker portion of oxur freight, we stopped 
at an inn. 

The most serious part of our recent adventure, let 
me say as we pause, was not the craft and cupidity 
of the baron in keeping the ice at the side of the 
river open for days, and calculating on his levy of 
black mail, but that, after saving a man's life (which 
Harry most certainly did), and when the others had 
allowed the man to die for want of attention, even 
after our later efforts to restore him, we were liable 
to be arrested, lodged in prison, tried without juiy, 
and condemned for murder. We could have been 



68 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

fairly condemned by Russian law, and the conse- 
quence of the adventure to us, had we not been 
protected, would have been a Siberia job, or a 
quashing of the affair by a large compensation to 
the drowned man's master and the various police 
officials. The Eussian law is terribly foolish and 
inhuman on this point. A dead body, or a person in 
jeopardy of life, must not be touched or helped except 
by the police. If any one interferes and the man 
dies, that interference brings after it a mass of 
trouble and expense past calculation, besides danger 
of punishment. A boat may be upset, its crew strug- 
gling in the water, and the banks lined with spec- 
tators. Yet if the men in the water cannot save 
themselves, they must perish. No assistance is at- 
tempted. Every thing is left to the police, unless the 
evidence be very strong that all danger is over. I 
saw three very respectable young men — ^two Germans 
and a Russian— drowned in the Neva, not a hundred 
yards from the shore. Their small pleasure-boat was 
capsized in one of those sudden gusts peculiar to this 
climate ; one sank at once, the other two got on the 
keel of the boat and shouted for help. But, although 
many looked on, and plenty of boats were at hand, 
no rescue was attempted. Another gust came, after 
a time ; the boat was light and was again capsized, 
keel down. Then round it went a third time, keel 
up; but this time it was empty. The two young 
men never rose, their lives being lost, when they 
might most easily have been saved if prompt help 
had been given. I have seen in a passage to Cron- 



coroner's law. 69 

stadt from Petersburg (twenty miles) four dead 
bodies floating in the river. Although hundreds saw 
them as well as I, they scarcely turned their heads to 
look^ and no remark was made. The bodies were 
allowed to float on down the river into the gulf, like, 
logs of wood ; and at the time of the ice breaking up 
this is a daily occurrence. 

One morning my •servant woke me at six o'clock, 
saying that a man had been murdered, and was lying 
nearly opposite my house on the road. I got up, and 
on proceeding to the spot, found a man lying in a 
pool of his own blood. His head and face seemed 
to be much smashed, but he was not dead. He im- 
plored help and water ; but although there were many 
persons standing roimd about him, not one would 
venture to move hand or foot for his assistance. He 
had been attacked and thus bruised in a public-house, 
and thrown into the road three hours before I saw 
him. A woman had seen him thrown out, and im- 
mediately informed the "stanovog;" but although 
the place was not a verst from his house, this worthy 
did not trouble himself to appear on the scene until 
four hom's had elapsed, and he had been thrice sum- 
moned. There, meanwhile, the man had lain in the 
frost and snow untouched. I saw him carried to the 
hospital, and heard that he died an hour afterwards. 
This man also might have been recovered had he 
been taken in hand as soon as found. 

As I was leaving my house one morning, I heard 
my assistant, Harry, shouting to me from the door 
of an outhouse for holding firewood. On entering 



70 BITSSIAK LIFE. 

the place^ I found a dead peasant lying on the floor 
with a piece of rope ronnd his neck, and from a beam, 
the other end of the rope was dangling. To my 
inquiry, Harry replied that he had gone into the 
place for a piece of wood to make a handle to an 
axe, and found the man hanging by the neck. The 
first natural impulse caused him to open ^ his knife 
and cut him down, and there he was lying. I found 
the man quite dead, as he had been for some time. 

"Now," I said, "Harry, you have got yourself 
into a nice mess. The police will make you respon- 
able for his death. Whafs to be done?" 

"Done ?" says Harry, "why, tie him up again." 
This never would have occurred to me; but 
Harry was a practical man, and he was right. So 
we managed to hang the poor &llow over again, and 
left the spot, happily without being seen. The body 
was found during the day, and a "stan." sent for, 
who never suspected the part we had acted in the 
tragedy. If he had, I have no doubt it would have 
cost us many roubles to save Hany from being tried 
for murder. 



CHAPTER VI. 

AT TULA AMOXG THE TRADEBS. 

TuiiA is a large government town of the second class, 
with more than fifty thousand inhabitants. It lies on 
the direct southern* military road to Odessa, rather 
more than a hundred miles from Moscow, and five 
hundred and twenty from St. Petersburg. Famous 
for cutlery and ironmongery, Tula is called the Bir- 
mini^am of Eussia^ and in one sense it is so ; for it 
is astonishing how fond the Tula manufacturers are 
of English names and marks. The name of Bodgers 
fiigures on many a bad Rus^an knife and razor. 
Goods can be, and are, made at Tula almost equal to 
the best English ; the great bulk, however, of the 
Bianuf acture is bad in material, and worse in work- 



A wise trader will endeavour to improve his 
quality, establish a good name, and beat his rivals. 
He will classify his wares, and depaids for prosperity 
on the faith of his customers in his desire to let them 
have exactly what they want» A Russian (there are 
exceptions to all general rules^ but in this matter un- 
QSuaUy few) seems to care nothing for good name in 
trade, or for the prospect o£ future transactions with 



V 



72 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

the person whom he serves. He is no speculator, 
even for his own henefit ; he does not look past the 
first haul ; and he gets the better of his customers, if 
he can, on all occasions. Khe can reduce the quality 
of his goods while maintaining their appearance and 
prices, he is triumphant, . and will cross himself in 
thankful devotion before his joss. I should be loth to 
libel any class of men, but I appeal to every English- 
man who has been in Kussia, and has had dealings 
with the natives, for a confirmation of my own fifi;een 
years' experience. I appeal to their own saying, that 
" a Jew in bargain is outdone by an Armenian, but a 
[Russian can outwit them both." There is no denying 
that a Bussian moushick merchant is in all com- 
mercial dealings an incorrigible cheat. It takes more 
than a wide-awake Yankee to make a " deal" with a 
Muscovite. 

The emperor, always honest and earnest for the 
improvement of the country, on one of his visits to 
Moscow called together a number of the principal 
merchants and manufacturers, and remonstrated with 
them on this prevailing bad practice. Great com- 
plaints had been made to him by his political agents, 
in those coimtries which bought from Russia, regard- 
ing the wholesale and shameful cheating used by the 
Moscow merchants in their dealings with the Ori- 
entals. They had, it seemed, not only reduced the 
qualities of their merchandise to the lowest possible 
degree, but had sometimes even packed the insides of 
their bales with rubbish, leaving a slight coating of 
the real article at the top and bottom. This conduct 



AT TULA AMONG THE TBADEBS. 73 

had given the government agents great trouble in 
forming treaties and commercial relations, and if not 
abandoned would bring down upon them (the emperor 
justly told the merchants) the ruin of their trade. 
This friendly and sensible remonstrance was accepted 
by some of them in good and honest faith ; they 
pleaded guilty, and promised reformation. Whether 
the promise has been kept, it is not yet possible to know. 
A fair glimpse of the condition of a people may 
be got through their commercial character. For this 
reason, I turn from the merchant arraigned before 
the Czar to the shopkeeper in the market or bazaar. 
The system of chaffering, bargaining, beating-down, 
and wrestling (so to speak) for copecks, is almost 
universal. I don't think there are half-a-dozen shops 
in Moscow and Petersburg together that sell on the 
principle of a fixed price and no abatement. Trade 
is huckstering, and no common huckstering either; 
it is hard work — ^like nothing in England but the 
sale of an old cow or horse at a country fair, by a 
veteran cow- or horse-couper. To come off with a 
few articles bought at their value is a work of time, 
patience, and skill. A newly-imported foreigner, of 
whatever nation, is a mark for plunder. If he go 
alone to buy, he falls an easy prey. If he be accom- 
panied by professional interpreters, it is not much 
better, as the shopkeeper expects the interpreter to 
call next day for twenty or thirty per cent commis- 
sion on any purchase made. Let me illustrate the 
system by a case (not uncommon), which is my own 
case. 



74 BUBBLAH LIFE. 

I often pr^er to do my own bargaining; andbeing 
in wantof apairof long&F-boots and a portmanteau, 
before taking a southern snrve j, I passed all the Eng* 
lish magazines, the Grerman,. French, and other f(»^ign 
establishments in Blacksmiths Bridge Street,^ and de- 
scended to the lower regions of Moscow, called the 
town or "gorod." This part is the old capital of 
Bnssia, and walled round, having the Kremlin in the 
centre. The entrance is under a heavy arch, guarded 
by images and lamps. One ought to feel the more 
secure from knavery after passing these representa- 
tives of saints ; but let the Englishman here mount 
guard over his own pockets. 

My search was along the interminable lines of 
dark booths which constitute the " Gostino Dvor," or 
favourite market-place (and here it is always twilight : 
that being the light in which a customer should ex- 
amine what an able trader has to sell). At length, 
after an hour^s search, I found the line sacred to 
Crispin and leather goods, and was hauled into onc^ 
of its booths by the touter at the door. At first I 
could not discern objects distinctly; but when my 
eyes had adapted themselves to the obscure Hght of 
the place, I saw the presiding genius bending before 
me, in the shape of a venerable mild-visaged man 
with flowing beard, who held in one hand a tumbler 
of smoking tea, and in the other a lump of black 
bread, on which was a quantity of salt and half a raw 
herring. He took the last gulp of his tea, laid down 
his delicious sandwich, ran his dirty hands throng 
his great beard, stroked it affectionately, rubbed off 



DRIVINa A BABGAIN. 75 

the remainmg grease of his hands on hid caftan, 
turned reverentially to the joss in the comer, crossed 
himself; and then signified his desire to know what I 
might want. How could such a man be an extor- 
tioner? See his frugality — ^black bread and herring. 
Look at his shop : a mere booth, containing no ex- 
pensive shopmen. Besides, has he not in my presence 
just appealed to Heaven I Surely that is a guarantee 
for fair and honest dealing. Let us see. 

" I want," I said, " a pair of the best f ur-bo(^s 
and a good portmanteau." 

Although the waQs and ceiling were crowded with 
all kinds of articles of his calling, he began to pull 
out a large drawer. The handle came off while he 
pulled, and he fell back on a great pyramid of boxes, 
boots, portmanteaus, and trunks, built up in the 
centre of the floor, overturning the whole in a ccm- 
f used mass. 

^' Ough I" he said, " Grod help me I This is an 
imluclhy omen." And again he crossed himself, with 
a view, as I supposed, to a fresh start. The wredt 
having been put to rights, and the drawer opened at 
length, the dealer produced a pair of long boots lined 
with fur. 

" There, your honour, is the very thing you want. 
Most excellent boots ; of the best quaUty to be found 
in Moscow. Yea Boch !" (God's truth.) 

Nevertheless, as my experience assured me that a 
Bussian shopkeeper invariably begins by producing 
the worst article he has, I tossed the boots horn me, 
saying, "Won't do; better." Another drawer wJw 



76 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

opened^ a third and fourth were gone over, with the 
same result. On the fifth attempt I condescended to 
examine the articles produced ; the good man haying 
declared, with the usual oath, that each in its turn 
was the best he had. The soles of the boots in my 
hand were of pasteboard, with a thin coating of 
leather neatly glued over it, and nicely polished up. 
The fur was cat's hair (without any skin), also glued 
to the legs, and the legs themselves were of the 
thinnest possible horse-hide. 

" Listen ; these will not do ; you must not detain 
me. K you have not any better, I must go." 

" No, your honour, better than these cannot be 
made. They will wear all your life. Yea Boch T 

" Then I must go to another shop." 

"Stop! I will look again. Ah! Heaven help 
me, here they are I" 

Better, but not up to my mark. None of the boots 
would do ; and in despair I made for the door, but 
was intercepted, and implored to remain a moment. 
A pair of excellent-looking boots was now fished out 
from a corner. The legs came considerably above 
the knees, the fur was a real skin, and the soles were 
evidently sewed, not pasted on. These I thought 
would do, and I laid them aside until I should have 
selected the portmanteau. 

I was shown articles made of pasteboard to repre- 
sent leather, of paper and wood, of paper and leather, 
and of leather as thin and as useless as paper. As 
they were produced, I was informed, with the usual 
solemn asseveration, that each in its turn was the 



DBIVING A BABGAIN. 77 

best that could be made, and all solid leather. 
Another attempted escape to the door brought out 
the real thing : at least, what had to me all the ap- 
pearance of a real solid leather portmanteau. Now 
came the tug of war — ^the price. The last half-hour 
had been mere skirmishing. , My friend began a 
long eulogium on the goods ; the words pouring in a 
torrent through his beard. They were every thing 
conceivable that is good; would last an age; were 
made specially for a prince ; I might travel in the 
boots to Siberia and back, if so incUned, and never 
cool my feet ; the portmanteau would go with me to 
China, or one hundred times over the Urals; the 
emperor had no better portmanteau. And between 
each clause of his eulogy he cried " Yea Boch !" He 
concluded by asking seventeen roubles for the boots, 
and thirty-one for the portmanteau: in all forty- 
eight roubles, or seven pounds ten, and at that price 
he was making me a present of them, " Yea Boch !" 

I offered sixteen roubles, or two pounds ten. 

"Sixteen would not pay the making; but hear 
me! Take them for forty. I shall lose the rest. 
Whafstobedone?" 

" No ; take sixteen, or I go instantly." 

" Yea Boch ! it is too Uttle by half; but hear for 
the last time." Here he seized me by one hand, put 
an arm round my neck, and hissed in my ear, 
" Thirty roubles. There I I am giving them.'* 

" Sixteen is my last word." 1 said good-day, and 
made for the door, but had scarcely got outside when 
he fastened on me by both shoulders, dragged me 



78 SUQSIASUFE. 

back into the shop, and bringing his great beard and 
greasy face close before mine, as if to impart a great 
secret, recapitulated all his encomiums, with greato* 
force and with more earnest appeals to ^^Boch" to 
attest his truth — all ijwhich he concluded by asking 
twenty-five roubles. This time I made so deter- 
mined a bolt that I succeeded in getting two doors 
off, on the way to a rival establishment, and was 
already in the hands of five or six touters pulling me 
in different directions, when again my old friend 
came running after me. 

^^ Come back, baron, come ! What a hurry yon 
are in " — ^I had given him a precious hour — " I will 
take less." « 

Not wishing to go through the preKminaries in 
another shop to which I had already submitted, 
and knowing the shops to be all much alike, I re- 
turned to the fray, and after haggling and chaffor- 
ing for another twenty minutes, during which my 
friend passed through stages of twenty, nineteen, 
eighteen and a half, eighteen, &c., we finally con- 
cluded the very stiff bargain at my original offer — 
sixteen roubles; which the dealer took with most 
placid satisfaction. I felt victorious, and said, "How 
shamefrd of you to ask three times more than you 
take, and tell so many Ues!" "O!" he replied, 
" words do not rob your pocket. I am no thief. It 
is all fair bargaining." 

As I left the place I saw him signing the cross 
before the joss, whether in thankfulness for a good 
bargain, or prayer for a pardon, I cannot tell ; but 



A SEBF SfiOPKEEPEB. 79 

after I got home I scmtimsed the purchases in a 
good light, and found that I had no cause to be vain- 
glorions. I was no exception to the common rede, 
but had been. so completely cheated that I would 
gladly have disposed of my bargain at a loss of 
fifty per cent. I learnt afterwards that this same 
shopkeeper is a serf, worth four hundred thousand 
roubles; that he owns ten shops in Moscow, and 
some in Petersburg; and that while he ate black 
bread and herring, he had two extravagant sons at 
the university, and daughters accomplished in all 
the graces of a Eussian education, enjoying horses, 
equipages, and a grand house. Such instances of 
wealth accumulated by frugality and extortion, are 
not rare amongst the ^Russians. 

Li Tula I saw the usual abundance of churches 
aad popes (priests), barracks and soldiers, merchants 
and hucksters, peasants in dirty sheepnskin coats, 
officers and gospodins in uniform driving in stylish 
equipages drawn by fast trotters from the steppes, 
or cobs from Siberia. There were all forms of 
Russian private vehicle and pubUc conveyances, with 
two, three, or four broken-winded, bent-knee'd, sore- 
backed, uncleaned hacks to each, and driven by 
ragged men in long gray coats of felt, and little hats 
four inches high, stuck full of the ends of peacocks' 
feathers. Burnt-down houses by the dozen lay in 
ruins — the remains of fires. There were streets 
paved with boulders, picked into confusion, and left 
in a chaos of hills and chasms. The inns were, as 



80 BX7SSIAN LIFE. 

usual, full of tobacco-smoke, and paved with dirt, 
alive with tarakans — ^the Russian representatives of 
the black beetle — ^and busy with silent whispering 
groups of teardrinkers. But these are only the 
common outside features of a town in the heart of 
Sussia. Of Tula proper I saw nothing ; my time 
being occupied in the care of our goods and repack- 
ing of our conveyances. We found it necessary to 
remove all our property to our own rooms, and to 
keep good watch over it. 

We only missed one pillow, a rug, two boxes of 
sardines, and a bottle of wine, until Harry, who had 
been storming about the place in search of the lost 
articles, caught one of the red-shirted waiters coming 
out of our room with a bottle under his shirt, which 
proved to be castor-oil stolen out of the medicine- 
chest. Harry considered it fit punishment to make 
him swallow a large dose. But when the eflfects of 
the dose began to display themselves, the man de- 
clared himself poisoned, and was carried to a hospital 
hard-by, while we and our packages were placed 
imder the surveillance of the poKce. 

Policemen brought to the inn stood sentry at the 
doors of our rooms, and we were prisoners for nearly 
two hours, when a doctor from the hospital, fortu- 
nately for us, a jolly Russ, came with a captain of 
police. While the captain of police tackled Harry, 
who, ignorant of the language, answered "Da, da" 
(yes, yes), to every thing, I explained to the doctor 
what had really happened. The worthy doctor 
having got hold of the oil-bottle, cried, 



THE DOCTOB* 81 

"Bravo ! Poison ! The most excellent medicine 
in pharmacy. Look here, captain. The pig" 
(meaning the waiter) "was taken ill with cholera, 
cramps, spasms, vomiting here — ^mind you, her© in 
this room — ^before madame and mademoiselle. They 
TUB. to the next room, so does my friend here, a great 
English my lord. What could they do I But, sir, 
the case was desperate. This gentleman" (pointing 
to Harry) " is a great doctor, accompanying my lord 
and his family ; there was no time to send for me. 
What does he do? He opens his great medicine- 
box — ^look, there it is — and gives the dying moushick 
a great dose of apemicocus celantacus heprecaincos 
masta, the best remedy in the world for cholera. I 
tell you, * Yea Boch I' there now, that's the truth." 

"But," said the captain, "the moushick, doctor, 
how is he ?" 

" Ah 1 the pig 1" (and here he spat on the ground 
in contempt), "I left the beast quite well and 
sleeping. I will answer for him. Come, captain, 
let us go. Poison! That is a good joke I Come, 
captain. Safe journey. Good-bye !" 

The police captain was satisfied, however, reluct- 
antly. With two bottles of something better than 
castor-oil, and a fee, which the doctor might or 
might not divide with the captain, I paid the cost 
of Harry's thoughtlessness. As we were about to 
start, Galen approached the carriage, and took me 



"Terrible fellow, that fierce-looking friend of 
yours. He looks as if he could fight the town and 



82 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

eat up the governor-general; but tell him to ^box 
'em/ and don't let him prescribe medicine again 
for any moushick. No one dares give medicine here 
but the faculty, and you cannot buy any but through 
a certificate from one of our noble profession. When 
you return this way, remember my name ; send for 
me. Grog, beef-steak, box'em, Palmerston! Ha, ha! 
Adieu." 

Thus throwing his whole stock of English into 
his final speech, he waved his farewell, and off we 
started for Orel, the next main point of our journey. 



CHAPTER Vn. 

ACROSS COUNTRY FROM TULA SOUTHWARD. 

We had spent eight hours in Tula, so that it was 
eight at night before we left, and dark. One of our 
tarantasses had been exchanged for a fresh one, the 
other not being considered safe: and in the new 
vehicle I had put my children, taking my own post 
for the night beside the driver on the box. All had 
been comfortably arranged for a long four-days' 
journey without stopping, except to change horses. 
We had proceeded swiftly and comfortably for six 
hours, when, in leaving a small village where we had 
changed for the fourth time, and in turning a rather 
sharp comer, my tarantass upset with a smash. 
Thanks to the inside packing of pillows and beds, 
nobody was hurt. Our calls for help brought the 
"starosta" and his man from the station-house, and 
by their aid we were enabled to resume our journey. 
I should not have mentioned this small incident 
bad it not been to show another phase of Russian 
manners. 

The starosta here referred to was the chief or 
overseer of the stables, but the word has a more 
extended sense. It is applied to .all overseers, bailiffs, 



84 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

and chief men over the peasant class in stables, 
hospitals, farms, villages, and estates. The starosta 
has great influence over the peasants, and should be 
appointed by the peasants themselves, as was the case 
in days of yore, before the peasantry were serfs. 
The name implies age and experience, and in those 
more primitive times discreet elders were elected by 
the peasants, in public meetings assembled, to repre- 
sent them, and take care of their interests. To these 
starostas they rendered a willing submission ; indeed 
they and the sotnicks (overseers of a hundred) formed 
the only defences of the peasant against the baron. 
Peter the Great found it almost impossible fully to 
raise his taxes from the migratory peasantry, who in 
his day possessed the land. Tlie tax-gatherer could 
never find the same men twice; they were gone, 
and new tenants, or no tenants, occupied the land. 
Peter made, therefore, a law, that at a certain date 
every peasant or cultivator of the ground was to be a 
fixture on the land he was then fanning, and that 
land only was his. All that became surplus under 
this arrangement the emperor appropriated to him- 
self. Peter divided the country into governments or 
districts ; appointed a governor in the principal town 
of each, giving him soldiers, police, and -all the 
machinery of command. He then established a poll- 
tax, and, giving to the progenitors of the present 
barons grants of land in these districts, made them 
responsible for the yearly payment of this tax. The 
government looked to the barons for it; and they, 
backed by the military power of the governor, levied 



THE STAROSTA. 85 

it from the peasants. In the disputes arising out of 
this arrangement, the starosta represented the people, 
and he was chosen by them for this purpose amongst 
others. They were not then serfs, but the levying of 
these taxes in course of time furnished the barons 
with an excuse for enslaving them. Peasants who 
could not, or who would not, pay, had their land 
taken from them, and were forced to work the land 
belonging to the baron. The barons, having to pay 
for all, introduced compulsory labour, more or less to 
meet their difficulty; and the peasants, being igno- 
rant and priest-ridden, were easily robbed of their 
lands and rights by their self-constituted tax-collect- 
ing masters. Thus it was that, in course of time, 
they came to be regarded as the property of these 
men, and were bought and sold with the land, as 
beasts of burden. The government connived at all 
this. 

So long as the tax was paid on each soul, all was 
right, and the passport gave means of determining 
the numbers upon each estate and village. In this 
way have the barons gradually, and surely, appro- 
priated to themselves the land, labour, property, and 
persons, of the peasantry. And, this being the case, 
instead of calling the new edict an emancipation of 
serfs, it ought strictly to be called a restoration of the 
peasants' rights. 

But the starosta, while this change was taking 
place, was not what he was first designed to be — the 
peasants', delegate. He has become a tool in the 
hands of the baron and the stewards : chosen not for 



86 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

his age and experience, but more frequently because 
of a certain kind of superior intelligence, and some- 
times for a scrupulous devotion to his masters. Now, 
if the steward be a bad one, the starosta must be bad, 
because he is the exponent of the steward's will. 
Woe to the poor peasant when this is the case ! The 
starosta knows intimately the domestic history, feel- 
ings, and conduct, of eVerj^ serf on an estate ; he 
pairs the young for marriage (not often compelling 
them against their inclination), and takes them before 
the baron or steward for his sanction. He selects 
the conscripts for the army ; those who are to be sent 
out on " obrok ;" and those who are to stay at home. 
He has the appointment of the different gangs of 
labourers on the estate, and it is he who, either with 
his own hand or by deputy, punishes the serfs for real 
or imaginary faults. In plain terms, he is the slave- 
driver of the American plantations, with this very 
material difference, that he is invariably a serf him- 
self — one of the class over which he is placed ; often, 
therefore, it will happen that he hates the steward, 
who is generally a German, and quietly contrives 
with the other serfs to thwart the steward's plans. 
Many tales are told of dreadful acts committed by 
serfs, at the instigation of the starosta, when goaded 
to madness by the tyranny and cruelty of stewards. I 
could tell some of these tales of horror ; but why rake 
up the memory of past atrocities, when the whole 
system is doomed to destruction by the late emanci- 
pation edict ? — one of those courageous acts for the 
advance of civilisation by which Alexander the Second 



THE TEAMSHICK. 87 

will be honoured centuries hence, whatever may be 
said in his own time by carping pohticians. When 
this edict has achieved its purpose the starosta's occu- 
pation is gone. 

The starosta who had come to our assistance 
imagined that my yeamshick was drunk ; so, without 
more ado, he began to kick and beat the poor man in 
a most brutal manner. Not content with his own 
blows, he caused two of his satellites to aid in the 
kicking and beating. The poor man, notwithstanding 
our continual remonstrances, was kicked, beaten with 
a stick, slapped in the face, and bore it all without 
saying a word. Abuse and blows rained on him, 
until my friend Harry could stand it no longer. His 
English love of fair play was scandahsed at seeing 
one man thus beaten by three, and, had I not 
restrained him, he would soon have made short work 
of the starosta and his gang. But the hindrance of a 
police difficulty could not be risked. We waited, 
therefore, impatiently until die men were tired of 
knockipg the poor driver about. He was then sent 
l^aek to the stables, and a boy of twelve years, or 
rather less, was put in his place on the box. Against 
this proceeding I strongly protested, for I thought 
the exchange much for the worse. Remonstrance, 
however, had no eflFect. The starosta assured me 
that he had not in all his gang a better dri,ver than 
the boy ; besides, he was brother to the pig who had 
overturned us ; and as the horses belonged to them — 
or rather to their master — they must be driven back 
by one of them to the station whence they came. 



( 



88 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

So, to the. very tender mercies of the boy we were 
committed until daybreak* 

The yeamshick is a great Russian institution. 
He is not to be confounded, as is sometimes done by 
strangers, with the extortionate ruffian drosky, lanska, 
and britska drivers, in the streets of towns and cities, 
nor with the coachmen of the gentry and aristocracy. 
He is a distinct animal; the interior swarms with 
him; he "works" every macadamised and unmac- 
adamised road in Russia, from the shores of the White 
to the shores of the Black Sea; and all roads are 
alike to him. Whether I make a bargain with one 
to take me to Siberia, or to the next town, it is all 
the same to him. He goes off to his gang, puts me 
into a hat, and I am drawn for. The fortunate 
drawer gets me for his job, and is responsible to the 
rest for his performance of the duty. I am quite 
safe with him ; he will carry out his part of the bar- 
gain, if he can. The traveller, entirely at his mercy, 
over endless tracks and plains, through dismal forests, 
frost and snow, among wolves and bears, never dis- 
trusts the poor yeamshick. He is neither a ruffian, 
nor a robber, but simply a peasant, who commenced 
driving troikas at six years of age, and who will drive 
them till he dies. He has one failing, the need of 
vodki: give it him the traveller must, but let the 
traveller give it sparingly ; and if you hit the right 
mean between parsimony and indiscretion as to this 
point, he will do any thing for his charge short of 
keeping awake when he is sleepy, merely because he 
drives. Considering the immensity of the country, 



THE YEAMSHICff. 89 

the number, length, and character of the roads, and 
that the yeamshick is the only reliable land-carrier 
for passengers and goods (excepting the few rail- 
ways), the number of these men must be immense. 
They played no unimportant part in the Napoleon 
invasion, and in the transport of troops and material 
of war to the Crimea ; and to write any thing about 
interior travelling in Eussia without giving a few 
lines to the yeamshicks would be leaving Hamlet 
out of his own play. 

Let no man imagine that he has tried Russian 
travel if he have merely visited Moscow and Peters- 
burg, and run a few hundred versts on any of the 
few main, well-kept roads. Wide of these, lies on 
both sides the interior life of this immense country ; 
and to see it we must penetrate through forests 
seventy miles long, jolt over wave-like undulations of 
endless barren or poorly-cultivated land, and bid fare- 
well to every vestige of macadam. In my case the 
deviation from the main road took place at no indi- 
cated point. No finger-post pointed the way, no road 
led to it. 

" I want to go to Evanofsky." 

" Well," said the yeamshick, " that is the road." 

" Where ? I see no road." 

" Ah, yes I but FU find one." And with that he 
turned the horses' heads at right angles to the straight 
broad road we were on, lashed, screamed, and suc- 
ceeded in plunging us across a deep, wide ditch, 
into what appeared to me to be an endless, pathless 
expanse of stubbled and unstubbled ground; tree, 



90 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

shrub, fence, post-house, or hut, there was none, to 
mark the route, as far as the eye could reach. The 
frost tmged the expanse with white, and the wintry- 
sun, as it shone with a cool light over the long sweep- 
ing undulations of the ground, made the surface of 
the land glisten like water. Some of us, indeed, 
could scarcely be persuaded that we were not about 
to plunge into some trackless pool, without compass, 
pilot, or chart. The inexperienced will always bid 
a regretful farewell to the beaten road, as to an 
old friend, and will face the trackless ground with 
uncomfortable notions about grizzly bears, wolves, 
ditches, precipices, and snow-storms. I confess that 
I lost sight of the black-and-white striped mile-post 
with some regret. Hitherto we had travelled with 
these posts and the telegraphic wires constantly on 
our right and left, as mute friends and companions. 
We could read the number of versts on each post 
when we had nothing else to do, and we could thuik 
of human messages going and coming on the wires ; 
but now they are gone on far to the south, keeping 
company with travellers on the one good broad road 
that leads to Odessa. As for us, we were over the 
ditch, and off through the fields. 

The change was sudden and complete; but all 
changes axe sudden and complete in Kussia. Sum- 
mer goes in a day, and winter comes. One may 
cross a river in a boat at night, and walk back on the 
ice in the morning. Doors and windows stand wide 
open in summer for a breath of cool air ; but in winter 
the cool air is barred out with double windows, triple 



RUSSIAN CONTRASTS. 91 

doors, and heated stoves. So in regard to clothing ; 
thin Knen summer habiliments are thrown aside in a 
day, and the reign of furs begins. Wheels are upon 
all carriages of every sort one day; snow comes during 
the night, and the wheels all vanish ; in the morning 
nothing is seen but sledges. The transitions from 
class to class are of the same character. One class is 
of gentlemen and barons; the next step is to mou- 
shicks, peasant-serfs who live on black bread and 
salt, seasoned with sour cabbage and garlic, and who 
are covered with a dirty sheepskin instead of being 
clothed in ermine, sables, and fine linen. Cronstadt 
is reached from Petersburg by steamers in one week ; 
in the next, the traveller runs over the same water 
with three horses before him. The people will leave 
a hot bath, and plunge into a hole made in the ice ; 
they will leave a room heated to seventy or eighty 
degrees, and follow a funeral for six miles with no 
covering on their heads, in a frost twenty-five degrees 
below zero ; they will fast seven weeks on cabbage 
and garlic, and then guzzle themselves in a few hours 
into the hospital, take cholera, and die. Diseases are 
generally swift and fatal — ^to-day well, to-morrow 
dead. More than two-thirds of the cholera cases die. 
"Women are interesting, plump, and marriageable, 
at fourteen ; they are shrivelled at thirty. Despotic 
power works in extreme without control, religion 
without morality, commerce without honesty. There 
is land illimitable, without cultivation. There are 
splendid laws, and poverty of justice. Some of these 



92 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

contrasts are now b^ng softened down by the wise 
progressive policy of Alexander the Second, 

Off the beaten track it was that I first learned 
what yeamshicks and horseflesh could accomplish. 
If our courage and confidence sank a degree, and we 
held on with bated breath as the tarantasses jolted 
over the deep ruts, ran on one wheel along the edge 
of a steep slope at an angle of forty-five, or plunged 
into a chasm with a crash, to be pulled out by the 
most desperate application of the whip, no such charge 
can be brought against the drivers ; they seemed to 
rejoice in having quitted the monotonous road, and 
their spmts appeared to spring into new life with 
every obstacle. They had now got something to 
drive over — something worth being a yeamshick for : 
^^Go, my angels!" "Step out, my dear pigeons!" 
" Climb up, my sweetheart !" And at every ejacula- 
tion down came the knout with terrible force and 
effect. 

At one o'clock in the afternoon of the second day 
after leaving the main road, we came in sight of the 
end of our wanderings, on the slope of a long hill. 
We were obliged to pack up. The descent was steep, 
and looked extremely dangerous; the yeamshicks, 
for the first time, paused before taking it. I got out 
to reconnoitre. On each side of us lay a dense and 
gloomy forest of oaks, birch, and pines ; the track 
down which we had come a certain length had been 
evidently cut through the hill for nearly a mile and 
a half. Far below in the valley lay a considerable 
number of what my servant Harry took to be peat- 



A DAKGEROUS DESCENT. 93 

hills. Those were huts* I could see also the cupola 
of a church, the chimney of a mill or works, and, on 
an adjoining eminence, a residence of some pretension. 
How to get down was a puzzle ; the ground was slip- 
pery jfrom ice, the descent long and precipitous, and 
the cattle were nearly exhausted ; the last team having 
come twenty miles. If our men chose to go down 
with the usual clatter and dash (we had no drags), the 
result might be disastrous. The yeamshicks, how- 
ever, soon made up their minds to try the old way, 
and I could see no better way. They crossed them- 
selves (their infalUble resource), and were gathering 
up the ropes for a start, when a voice called out from 
the wood on the left, " Hold, hold ! Do you want 
your necks broken, you fools ?" I knew in a moment, 
from the manner in which the Eussian was spoken, 
that this was the voice of an Englishman ; and as he 
came struggling through the brushes and low under- 
wood that lined the edge of the wood, his appearance 
did not beUe his speech. He was short, fat, and 
florid ; dressed in a fur-coat, long boots, and fur-cap ; 
he carried a double-barrelled gun, and was followed 
by a man much in the same garb, but younger, taller, 
and stronger than himself. Two great shaggy cream- 
coloured wolf-dogs followed the second man, who car- 
ried a double-barrelled rifle, and had a large sheathed- 
knife in his belt. While the one was collecting 
breath, after abusing the yeamshicks for intending 
to gallop down the hill, the other came up to me, and 
after surveying us very deliberately, said, in the pure 
Doric of canny Scotland : 



94 KUSSIAN LIFB. 

" Tm just thinkin', but maybe I'm wrang, that 
ye're no unlike kintramen o' ours — that is, English- 
men, I mean?" 

I acknowledged the proud relationship, and said, 

^^I seek a village called Evanofsky, and a man 
called Count Pomerin; can you help a coimtryman 
to find them r 

"Surely; the village is yonder in the glen, and 
the man is not far off. May I ask if ye are the party 
he wull be expecting from St. Petersburg ? If sae, 
wull be right glad to see you, but at the present 
moment it is impossible to get speech of him. We've 
a bit hunting on hand, you see, and Pomerin is at his 
post, as we were when you cam' betwixt us and our 
line of fire." 

" God bless me !" I said, rather quickly ; " are we 
betwixt the game and the rifles ?" 

"That's just precesely the position we have all 
the honour o' occupying at this present moment, and 
in half an hour after this it might not be unco' 
pleasant ; but for that time, I think, we're safe, unless 
for a stray beastie or sae. Now, if you like to join 
the hunt, you and the other gent-le-man, I would 
advise you to send on the conveyances and contents 
to wait you* at Pomerin's; they will get" a rayal 
welcome, and I shall send an escort with them." 
This being agreed on, he said to his friend, " Pins, 
whistle on that Dugal crature o' yours." 

Mr. Pins put a whistle to his mouth and gave a 
shrill call, when presently a figure emerged from the 
wood, no inapt representative of the famous Dugal 



MB. SAUNDEKSON. 95 

creature in Rob Roy. He had bandy legs, a great 
mass of tangled red hair on his head and face, red 
ferret eyes, and he dressed in a felt coat which 
reached only to the knees, a wolf-skin cape, and 
large boots, a world too wide for him ; and a short- 
handed axe stuck in his belt. Mr. Saunderson had 
made some sign which I did not observe, that brought 
his henchman, a man of like sort, also to the spot. 
These having received their orders, proceeded to drag 
the wheels. In a few minutes two young trees were 
cut down, and, having been chopped into the right 
length, were thrust between the spokes and across 
the hind-wheels of the carriages. Having thus 
effectually put on a safety-drag, the two ^Dugal 
creatures,' large and small, mounted beside the drivers ; 
but Harry and I remained behind with the ammuni- 
tion, guns, and pistols ; and then the vehicles began 
sliding down the hill without us, in a very comfort- 
able manner. 



CHAPTER Vni. 

WITH THE HUNTSMEN. 

I HAD often heard of a hunt in the interior, and was 
glad, although fatigued, to join one. The plan is 
something akin to the ancient practice of deer- 
hunting in the Scottish Highlands. In the present 
case, however, the game was different : not deer, but 
wolves, bears, foxes, and other vermin, which had 
been found very destructive and troublesome for 
some time past. The greater number of the men 
of several villages, including every man who could 
handle a gun, had turned out. I attached myself to 
Mr. Saunderson, Harry joined Mr. Pins, and we 
followed our new acquaintances into the wood from 
which they had come upon us. On entering, I could 
see that preparations had been made on a large scale. 
Just inside the wood, and extending a long way — 
perhaps to near the bottom of the hill to the left, and 
for a less distance to the right — men armed with 
guns, rifles, pistols, knives, old scythes, and other such 
weapons, were stationed thirty yards or less apart 
from one another, while, behind each, a horse was 
picketed to a tree. Many of the principal rifle and 
armed men, like my friends Pins and Saunderson, 



WITH THE HUNTSMEN. 97 

had * Dugal creatures/ or peasant-serfs, attached to 
them, having in charge dogs, horses, and other 
accessories. The whole party formed two lines, 
probably a mile and a half long ; the first line armed ; 
behind it the unarmed and the horses. On the 
opposite side of the road, and on the trees in front, 
was a strong net, ten or twelve feet high, extending 
up and down hill, as far as I could see, parallel with 
the road, leaving the road itself convenient for the 
work of slaughter, while the men might fire into the 
net at pleasure from the cover, advance into the open, 
or mount and run in case of danger. How the net 
was secured, or what resistance it might make against 
a large infuriated animal, I had no means of know- 
ing ; but I imagined that though it might hinder or 
entangle, it could not stop, or oiFer any efiectual bar 
to a bear, or even a strong maddened wolf. 

My companion enlightened me on sundry points : 
How, I asked, did they get the game into the net ? 

That was easily managed. Six hundred men had 
been sent early that morning into the opposite wood, 
at a point four or five miles from our present position : 
these men had spread themselves in a line across the 
wood, the two flanks gradually advancing faster than 
the centre, so as to form a curve by the time they 
reached the road where the net was placed, the flanks 
touching the ends of the net; then the centre 
advancing, drove all the game which was in front of 
them, right into the toils to be shot down. These 
men carried poles and other instruments for making 
all kinds of hideous noises, and the number of them 

H 



98 RUSSIAN LIFE, 

being large, the whole wood became a wild Babel 
of dreadfiil sounds, which frightened and daunted the 
doomed animals. 

"This is an inglorious system of hunting, only- 
worthy of barbarians." 

^* Oo ay ; but ye ken the Russians can only operate 
in the mass way — ^that is, when they have plenty to 
keep them company. Besides, there is sometimes a 
bit hand-to-hand struggle, to vary the thing." 

" Where is Count Pomerin ?" 

The count was down the hill, on the left flank, 
and conmianded that side, while he (Saunderson) held 
the like position on the right up the hill. Pomerin's 
post was reckoned the more dangerous, as the chief 
haimts of the vermin were well known to be down the 
hill. Pomerin, he continued, was a dead shot, and 
always on those occasions took the post of danger. 
He was a gentlCToian every inch of him; "a wee 
thing ower fast, ye ken ; but he's^ young ; and then 
his grandfather died last year, and left the laddie 
three milUons of roubles, besides this immense estate, 
with the ten thousand bodies on it, two sugar manu- 
factories, our vodki works, and the cotton-mill. When 
Mr. Saunderson cam' here, some years ago, the auld 
man was hale and weel, and this yoimg man — whose 
faither got a trip to Siberia and never cam' back — 
was the grandfather's pet. The young lad's mother 
was a serf, a bonny winsome thing, it is said ; she's 
no ugly yet ; she and her family were freed, and she 
was highly educated at Moscow, before and after her 
marriage ; still this marriage was a cause of trouble. 



COUNT POMKBIN. 99 

The proud aristocrats shut their doors cai the pair of 
them. He fell into a revengeful spirit^ and began 
writing papers on political economy, meaning to 
publish them abroad. Spies were in his house. 
Every line he wrote, and every word he said, they 
reported to the police, and so the end was that he 
vanished one night, and noo' they just say he is dead. 
No expense has been spared on the son's education ; 
he can gabble in French, German, Italian, and all 
other modern languages ; he has travelled in France, 
England, and Italy. He has a stud of horses, and 
keeps a table like a prince : but O, man, Tve been 
told that he was spinnin' the auld man's bawbees last 
winter in Petersburg in fine style I K ye're a frigid 
of his, gie him a canny advice to hand a better grup 
o' the siller. At this present time he is negotiatin* 
wi' a widow-woman, a ^ generalshee,' to buy her bit 
estate. Her steward is a big rascal, an' Pomerin will 
pay grandly if he does not mind his hand. I ken 
what I ken aboot that place, and he might do waur 
than tak' my coonsel aboot it." 

" Who is your friend Pins ?" I asked. 

^^ Pins !" he said ; " a poor cotton-spinning, ignor- 
ant, upsetting cuif^ but. as sly and sleekit as a fox. 
He has managed to get Pomerin to quit four years of 
arrears of rent and his workers' obrak; and he is 
tryin' to persuade his landlord to build a great cotton- 
mill, and send him to England to buy the machinery. 
The commission he'U get on that is worth ten years 
of his present wee place." 

" But," I said, " that might be a good investment 



100 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

for the count." " Na, na, it's ower far to bring the 
cotton and to send the yarn to market; there's no 
railways here like England ; and there's no outlet for 
it in other countries, the demand is limited, and 
pretty well supplied now. If the count is wisely 
advised, or would tak' a practical man's advice like 
mysel', he will invest his money in a safer channel. 
Let him cultivate his ground ; our auld mother Earth 
is a generous^and fruitful lass, if she is well nourished. 
If he will manufacture, let him use the material his 
land produces. There's flax and hemp at the door ; 
there's beetroot for sugar, and rye for bread, and 
vodki. He'll want machinery, nae doot, for these — 
corn-mills, saw-mills, and agricultural implements; 
but he can sell the ropes and yam, the vodki and 
the sugar, without trouble or expense. These large 
cotton-mills about Moscow and Petersburg are doing 
well at present — ^not so long after the war. But just 
suppose cotton was to grow scarce, or there was war 
with America, or amongst the Yankees themselves — 
not unlikely — or suppose the government was to take 
the duty off the imported manufactured goods, there 
is not one of these manufactories would be worth auld 
iron. It's not a good doctrine of political economy, 
and it will bring its recompense some day, to rob the 
poor moushick bodies, who are the chief consumers of 
the cotton cloth, to enrich a few foreign machine- 
makers, capitalists, and agents. The extra wages 
given to the workpeople is no equivalent for the 
enormous prices taken from them ; besides, they don't 
get the benefit of the extra wages. It only goes into 



WITH THE HUNTSMEN. 101 

the pockets of the greedy barons whose slaves they 
are, whUe the estates are lying uncultivated, and the 
serfs are as poor and miserable as ever," 

"But still/' I said, "these manufactories are 
good civilisers. They require intelligence and skill 
in the workpeople, and this is much wanted in Rus- 
sia." 

" Civilisation in Russian cotton-mills ! Hot-beds 
of vice and corruption I Whaur hae ye been, to 
speak that gate? I could tell ye something aboot 
that. But,— hear to that I" 

Sounds from the six hundred men in the wood 
had long since been heard, increasing in volume ; but 
now they had become deafening, and indicated the 
very near approach of the sport. Halloaing, shout- 
ing, yelling, whistling, blowing of horns, and a din as 
of heavy blows on iron kettles, formed a discordant 
chorus, and so loud that I could hardly hear the 
latter part of Mr. Saunderson's lecture on political 
economy. But his "hear to that," referred to a 
rifle-shot, immediately followed by a clattering of 
shots all down the line. I looked across the road,' 
and could see the net vibrating, bulging, and in some 
places coming down, entangling heavy bodies in its 
meshes. Two large wolves, strong, and apparently 
fat, followed by a third, made their way cautiously at 
first from below the net, and then jumped into the 
road. Three or four shots went off at the same 
moment, but only one wolf dropped, the other two 
made as if for the wood on our side, but seemed to 
scent danger in that direction, for they turned round 



102 RTTSSIAK LUTE* 

and tore up the hill at rattling speed. "Don't fire," 
shouted Saunderson; "let off the dogsT And 
immediately four noble dogs sprang into the road, 
right in front of our position. One wolf was caught 
in a moment by the first two dogs, but the other ran 
into the wood, hotly followed by the other couple. 
Pins was reloading, when the three animals dashed 
amongst his legs, and upset him as they passed. I 
can only relate what I myself saw. A deer, or elk, 
with magnificent broad horns, cleared the net at a 
bound, right in front of us. "Now," said the 
Scotchman, "that's my quarry." The animal had 
scarcely touched the ground when a bullet struck 
him in the brain, and down he went. This was the 
'first shot he had fired, and he hastily reloaded, for 
he said he fully expected bears. At this time a 
horseman on a splendid English hunter dashed up 
the open steep, and the firing abated. "That's 
Pomerin, — what's he after? He'll get shot," said 
Saunderson. As he approached our position, he 
shouted in English, "Two large bears are heading 
up the wood inside the net, and the men are falling 
back; they will escape if we don't mind. Mount 
and follow who will." Saunderson was on his horse 
in a moment, and after the young man up the hill. 
Turning to look for Pins and Harry, I saw Pins, the 
picture of fear, behind a tree. As I came up he was 
imploring Harry to help him on his horse, that he 
might quit the field ; his own man had not returned, 
"Blow me if I do," said Harry. " But TU take the 
loan of it. And here, old cock, take my blunderbuss. 



WITH THE HUNTSMEN. 103 

and m JTist try your rifle on a Eooshian bear." 
Whereupon he coolly took Pins's rifle out of his 
awkward hands, untied the horse, jumped on his 
back, and was after Saunderson before I could have 
stopped him, which I certainly did not intend to do. 
Had I been as well mounted and armed, I should 
have followed : as it was, I was condemned to inac- 
tivity, and the society of Mr. Pins. 

The shots were still rattling ofl* down the hill; 

several horsemen had passed in pursuit of the bears 

immediately after Harry left; and in a short time the 

rest of the huntsmen advanced into the open road to 

get to closer quarters with the game in and behind 

the net. I also left the cover, saw them fire several 

volleys ingloriously at the prostrate and entangled 

animals, and was about to examine the eflfects of 

their firing by going close up to the net, when a low 

growl, then a loud savage howl, issued from behind, 

and immediately a bear burst through an opening 

into the road among the men; as if disdaining to 

touch them, he turned again and faced the wood 

whence he had come, and where he knew his 

pursuers to be. The rifles on our side were all 

unloaded, so that he deliberately sat for a short time 

in the middle of the road untouched. I was just on 

the point of trying the effect of revolver shot, and 

had made a few steps to get a proper and sure aim, 

when Saunderson rode jfrom the wood, and drew up 

not twenty feet from the poor surroimded beast. He 

raised his rifle and fired, and the bear fell. The 

men, who had been all scampering off, returned to 



104 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

finish him with their knives, but Saunderson cried 
out, " Keep back, he's not dead ; he will comb some 
of your hair if you don't mind T He spoke too late. 
One man, more daring than the others, had stooped 
down to run his knife into the beards throat, when, 
with astonishing swiftness, bruin raised himself to a 
sitting position, and darting his great paw, armed 
with those formidable talons, at the man's head, tore 
down cap, hair, skin, and flesh to the elbow. The 
man fell forward on the bear — ^in fact, into his arms 
— and was about to experience one of those deadly 
hugs, or embraces, which would have put him out of 
all pain, but a bullet from the same hand that first 
struck him put an end to the bear's power of 
mischief. The wounded man sprang up, and with a 
piercing shriek ran down the hill. He was ultimately 
carried home, and survived, but was for life fright- 
fully disfigured. 

The six hundred men, who had been making the 
noises and driving the game into the net, began to 
assemble in the road and gather together the spoil. 
The dogs came wagging their tails, some with their 
fangs dripping and bloody, and their sides and heads 
showing rather severe wounds. 

" Ah, Barbose, Burlak, my lads, you've done your 
part nae doot. But, God help us ! where's Pomerin, 
and that body Pins, and that great big Englishman 
of yours ?" 

" As for Pins," I said, " I left him in the wood, but 
I must inquire of you where the other two are." 

"Me! I ken whaur I left them, but it's no easy 



WITH THE HUNTSMEN. 105 

saying whaur they may be now. Come on and 
search ; ye see, the bears divided as we headed them. 
I and two other men kept close on this one as he 
skirted the edge of the wood; twice he turned to 
offer battle, but took the rue. The other two men 
fired at him, and missed; at the last fire he bolted 
into the road, then I got a clear shot ; and had my 
nag not moved, that shot would have finished him. 
Pomerin and your man Harry have followed the 
other bear. I hope they are all safe." 

He had left his horse, and we penetrated a good 
way into the forest, accompanied by a few men, 
Saunderson leading. So we came to a glade almost 
bare of trees. In the centre of this, he said, there 
was a large deep dell half a mile across, the sides 
sloping into the centre, and dense with trees all over. 
" Here it is ; and as I live here's the horses tied to a 
tree. Living or dead, they are here." 

Although the foliage had fallen, the place looked 
dark and dismal ; and just as we reached it two shots 
were heard in the hollow, the one a moment or two 
after the other. Down we rushed, sliding among 
the damp old leaves, and holding on by tree-trunks 
and branches. At length, in answer to our shouts, 
we heard a halloa repeated. This led us to the very 
bottom of the immense pit ; and there stood Harry, 
fast in the embrace of the young Russian. Their 
guns were on the ground, and the bear lying dead 
beside them. As soon as Pomerin saw me, he sprang 
forward, embraced, and kissed me with emotion. He 
was much excited ; and in answer to our questions, 



106 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

told US that, not thinking what he was about, he fol- 
lowed the bear down into this awful hole. 

" I had fired twice at him, and hit him once, but 
not fatally. The villain seemed to know that both 
barrels were empty, for he turned at bay on this spot, 
a fine place for a game at hide-and-seek with a bear. 
I dodged him round and round the trees a good 
while, and having no time to load, threw my gun 
down. At last he got me in a comer, from which I 
could not move but in one direction, and that was 
into his arms. You see this tree ; behind it is, you 
perceive, sheer cliff, on both sides a gully. Well, I 
got behind the tree ; the bear advanced, sure of his 
prey, no doubt. I stared him steadily in the face as 
he came on, but on he came ; he was within five 
yards of me. I drew my knife ; I had no hope of 
success ; for, see, he is an enormous grizzly. Ah, the 
horror of that moment ! I was just waiting his next 
step, and my eyes were dancing with fire-sparks, 
when I heard a voice from the cliff behind me, ' Lie 
down on yer belly, flat — quick; and I'll give the 
buffer somethink to eat harder nor gentlemen's flesh.* 
Ah ! God bless my grandfather for teaching me the 
English language I These words were the sweetest I 
ever heard in my life. Down I went, flat on the 
ground ; the bear had taken a step or two forward, 
and was looking up to the cliff, for I kept my eyes on 
him. I could now almost feel his breath on my face, 
when, in a moment, ping, whirr, then in another 
moment, ping, whirr, went the bullets, ripping over 
me, right into the beards head. Over he went, 



HIDE AND SEEK WITH A BEAR. 107 

roUiiig down the steep. Down jumped my preserver 
to my side, and Tve been hugging him like a bear 
erer since." 

He turned to repeat the dose, but Harry set ofF 
with a " No more o' that ere." 

When we returned to the scene of the main 
slaughter, we found the road filled with peasants — 
those who had been beating up the game, those who 
had been shooting it, the dog and horse attendants, 
and a crowd of idlers firom the village. The game — 
consisting of the two bears, four cubs, two deer or 
elks, five large and two small wolves, hares, rabbits, 
and other small animals in abimdance — ^was given 
over to the peasants, except only the two bears, which 
were ordered to be taken to the count's residence. 
I should have expected that the peasants would have 
made some demonstration of joy at the deliverance of 
their young master, which was known to them all by 
this time, but nothing of the kind took place. A few 
of them, indeed, came forward and kissed his hand, 
and said, " Thank God, he was safe," but these, I 
could perceive, .were his domestic retainers and 
attendants. They were better dressed and cleaner 
than the generality of the peasants, and looked like 
the pampered and favoured menials that they were. 
Amongst the others I in vain looked for any expres- 
sions of interest. Here was the .raw material, and in 
the right spot for studying it. The excitement of the 
sport, in which every one might be expected to share 
to some degree, did not seem to have ignited in these 
people one spark of emotion. There was nothing to 
remind me of the peasant^" ^ my own happy land, 



108 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

even in their worst times. I saw no smiling happy 
faces, no sparkling glad eyes, no manly blunt fellow 
officiously pressing forward to be taken notice of, no 
di^dsion of class into farmers and farmers' men, 
traders, and ploughmen, no evidence at aH of degrees 
in the social scale, no appearance whatever of a 
thriving, happy, or contented ignorance, even among 
the serfs, no pride of clanship in the daring courage 
and appearance of their chief. Yet he appeared to 
me to have — ^in fact, I know he possessed — ^all that 
was requisite to call it forth, had it been there. No. 
They showed themselves, as we moved forward and 
amongst them, stoUd, apathetic, and listless. Caps 
came off certainly, and way was made for us with 
alacrity. But if they had any feelings at all, they 
managed very cunningly to hide them. Their faces 
were in general good in contour, and their individual 
features regular, some of them handsome. The out- 
door workers were brown or swarthy, and those who 
attended the in-door manufactories pale and sallow. 
As to height, bone, and muscle, they seemed very 
fairly developed. The Kussian peasant men are, 
indeed, the finest in the' country; many of them 
models of manly shape and beauty. One thing 
struck me as very remarkable, the brilliant whiteness 
and regularity of their teeth. They were, as a rule, 
white as the piu'est ivory and perfect in form. This 
is ascribed, I find, to the eating of black bread. 
Yet, notwithstanding all these favourable points, the 
expression on their faces was stupid, dull, and un- 
meaning ; what expression there was, I could connect 
only with cunning and distrust. 



CHAPTER IX. 

SERFS OF A VILLAGE IN THE INTERIOR. A LOOK 
ROUND THE CHURCH. 

In outward expression the Russian serf is a mere 
clod of the valley. His dress is seldom varied. A 
little round low-crowned black felt hat, with narrow 
tumed-up rims, covers the usual profusion of brown 
or carroty tangled locks, which are sometimes parted 
in front, and cut straight at the neck. Every serf I 
have seen, who had reached manhood, had a beard, 
whiskers, and moustache, untouched by razor or scis- 
sors ; so that most of these natural beards were mag- 
nificently long, rolling in soft curls, or spreading and 
bushy. 

Beards are in Russia the peculiar prerogative of 
two classes only, but those the most numerous, if not 
the most potent — serfs and priests ; all other Russians 
crop and shave. Government officials of all kinds — 
and they are a host — ^gentlemen, barons, and soldiers, 
will not allow a hair to be seen, unless it be an 
imperial, a royal, or a Napoleonic moustache on the 
upper lip. Beard is the mark of servitude and priest- 
craft, and is therefore. abhorred by the "respecta- 
bility" of Russia. Count Pomerin's serfs were pro- 



110 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

fiisely hairy under tlieir hats, were dressed in loose, 
often ragged, coats of gray, brown, or black felt, or 
in cloth, coarse as " Hieland heather," reaching a little 
below the knees, and held together at the waist by 
a belt, like a narrow horse-girth. Under the coat 
would be found either a striped cotton or plain linen 
shirt, of the coarsest material, called " crash," some- 
times used for kitchen towels. Trousers of the same 
material were stuck into brown or grey felt boots, 
and the toes within the boots would be wrapped 
round with a coarse linen rag in lieu of stockings. 
On their hands the serfs wear fingerless leather mit- 
tens ; and in the girth-belt, an the right hip, carry a 
short-handled axe. 

After passing through the crowd of serfs, we pro- 
ceeded down the hill, crossed a morass which caused 
the horses some trouble, and then over a low wooden 
bridge, spanning a frozen stream, passed to the out- 
skirts of the \dllage of Evanofsky. The peasants, who 
followed listlessly, sauntering, and silent, gradually 
vanished into their wooden huts. These thatched 
village huts are so low, that one wonders how such 
well-grown men stand up in them, especially as their 
walls are sunk at all manner of angles off the square. 
The gables face the street or road ; no door is -visible, 
but there is a large wooden gateway next the house, 
and a small door leading to the dwelling, somewhere 
in the rear. The gateway is for horses and cattle, 
carts, &c. ; and the allotment of each peasant is fenced 
in from the road by a close high paling, which extends 
to the next hut. These allotments being of consider- 



SERFS OF A VILLAGE IN THE INTERIOR. Ill 

able breadth, a village spreads over a great space of 
ground. 

In some parts of Russia the huts have a low under 
story, for sheltering cattle during winter. It admits 
horses, cows, sheep, pigs, goats, and poultry. The 
flooring is open, and the animal heat from so many 
bodies, ascending to the inmates above, helps to keep 
them warm. In the summer, the quadrupeds go to 
the field, and the bipeds above take possession of the 
vacant cellar as the coolest place for the hot weather. 
A trap-door admits from above to this ground-floor, 
and a long sloping board outside, with cross pieces of 
wood nailed on it, like the temporary ladders used for 
building pm'poses in England, is the way out into the 
open air. In the villages belonging to Count Pomerin 
the cattle of the peasants are housed in outbuildings 
immediately adjoiniag the low huts, the communi- 
cation between them being always open. It follows 
that the men and women and the cattle live very 
much on the social principle, and have all things in 
common. I saw cow- and horse-dung built up three 
or four feet high from the ground, and one and a 
half feet thick, all round the huts, to keep out the 
coming winter frost. What windows I noticed were 
mere pigeon-holes. 

The street or road between these habitations was 
fully six times as broad as Oheapside in London; 
and a double row of tall trees ran down the centre, 
forming, no doubt, a cool and pleasant promenade in 
summer. Be it remembered that this was no road- 
side village, neither was it an outskirt to a town, but 



112 BUSSIAN LIFE* 

a genuine Bussian feudal village, or, as the Scotch 
would say, "clachan," a long way from any public 
road or corporate town, embosomed in the heart of a 
large valley, between inmiense regions of forest and 
the rolling plains. 

After a long ride we reached the church. It 
seemed to stand in the centre of the village ; and the 
other long lines of mud streets, like the one we had 
passed, radiated from it as a centre. It was a very 
large and handsome new building of stucco br^ck, 
with a Corinthian front, and constructed — ^as all 
Bussian churches are — ^in the form of a cross, with 
gilded domes, cupolas, minarets, and two immense 
belfries, each containing one large and six small bells, 
fourteen in all, which were now keeping up a most 
atrocious jangle. Over the front entrance was at 
one end a very fairly-executed painting of the Last 
Supper, and at the other a picture of some saint's 
story which I did not understand. All the archi- 
tectural designing and outside decoration was the 
work, I was told, of a serf belonging to the place. 
The church was open. It happened to be a saint's 
day (St. Vladimir, I think), and the count, with Ms 
party, including myself, entered the sacred edifice. 
We were not very long in it, the count and the other 
Russians of our party getting very swiftly through 
their reKgioas observances; but the religious faith 
and observances of any people have a powerful effect 
in the formation of their character, and what one 
sees of the Greek Church in its practical bearing on 
the Russians is worth note. 



THE GREEK CHURCH. 113 

This Greek Church is a schism from the Eoman 
Catholic, or the Roman Catholic is a schism from the 
Greek ; at all events the one split into two, on the 
elevation of Gregory the Sixth to the patriarchal 
chair of Some. Before that time the four patriarchal 
chairs of Rome, Alexandria, Jerusalem, and Con- 
stantinople, had been independent the one of the 
other, and each patriarch ruled in his own division ; 
but squabbles had been going on between the patri- 
arch of Rome and his brother patriarch of Constan- 
tinople, for the supreme headship of the whole 
Christian world. The two grand divisions which to 
this day are maintained — the Eastern or Greek, and 
the Western or Roman Church — ^now present so 
many points of similarity that a common origin is 
evident, and so many points of dissimilarity that the 
impossibility of any united action is equally evident. 
The Greeks have no purgatory, their priests must all 
be married, the Emperor is head of the Church in 
the same sense as the Queen of England is head of 
the Church of England and defender of the faith, 
and each diocese has a supreme patriarch, who is only 
supreme in his own district. It is to the especial 
honour of the Greek Church that it has not been 
intolerant of other creeds, has not persecuted with 
fire and faggot, and at the present time allows in 
Russia every form of religious belief to be publicly 
followed by strangers and foreigners. But no 
proselytising is permitted. The great defect of the 
Greek system is the almost total exclusion of moral 
teaching. All is display of ceremony. 

I 



114 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

When we entered the church service was being 
performed by four long-haired priests, attended by 
their clerks, and robed splendidly in sacred vestments 
of cloth-of-gold, with chains of gold and crosses 
hanging from them. The services consisted of chant- 
ings, genuflexions, crossings, and readings from a 
book of prayer ; the voices of priests and assistants 
rising and falling the whole pitch of the gamut at. a 
word, running in a low monotonous tone for a few 
seconds, then bursting afresh into a high key for a 
word or two, and then sinking into a mumble of 
inarticulate sounds. Immediately behind the popes 
(a ll prie sts are called popesJoJRussia), and facing the 
entrance, was a raised platform or dais, extending 
across that part of the church : with wings and side 
doors, not unlike the stage of a theatre. In the 
centre of this stage stood the altar, around which 
were blazing a large number of wax candles. At the 
side-wings were images and pictures by the dozen. 
A small rail, with an opening hi the centre, separated 
this altar, and its attendant holy images, from the 
main body of the building. 

The audience was pretty numerous, chiefly com- 
posed of women, many of whom carried babies, and 
were getting themselves crossed and sprinkled with 
holy water by one or other of the priests as they 
passed. There was not a single seat in the church ; 
all worshippers were standing, bending, bowing, pro- 
strating, and diligently crossing themselves. The 
prostrations were complete, to the touching of the 
cold flags with the forehead, and the kissing of the 



AT CHURCH IN A VILLAGE. 115 

ground. A few reading-desks were placed here and 
there about the church among the people, and on 
each lay for study a small picture of some particular 
saint. The one I examined was a miserably mean 
representation of Joseph* and Mary, with a child 
between them. On these desks, beside each of the 
pictures, lay a plate for the reception of money, and 
there was a stand for tapers and candles. The poor 
devotees crowded to kiss the pictures, made their 
children do so too, and when the children were babies 
held the pictures to their lips. After a time the 
performing priests retired behind the side-scenes, and 
reappeared on the stage beside the altar. Then 
was heard a choir of very good voices commencing 
another part of the performance, and now, bending, 
crossing, and prostrating were renewed with added 
energy. During all this time the people were going 
and coming, passing and repassing, through the 
church, as they sought out the particular saints' 
pictures before which they desired to perform their 
devotions. No one seemed willing to rest for a 
single moment. Wax tapers and candles were being 
sold near the door, varying in price from three 
kopecks to many rubles. I am told that the priests 
derive a considerable revenue from the chandlery- 
trade — first selling their candles for sacred purposes, 
and after they have burnt for a short time, putting 
them out to be resold for common use. 

On this and on many other occasions I did not 
hear one syllable of preaching or homily-reading, nor 
one hint of the moral precepts of Christianity. 



116 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

At Easter there is absolution given to the Greek 
Church people. Six weeks of common fasting have 
been previously observed, and a week of uncommon, 
almost absolute starvation, precedes Easter Sunday. 
During that week confession is made, and absolution 
in some sense given in a very wholesale manner by 
the priests who attend for the purpose. 

" Evan, where are you going T said a firiend of 
mine to his servant-man, on one of these days of 
"gavating," that is, confessing. 

"I am going to confession; Til be back in a 
quarter of an hour, — ^the church is just at hand." 

"But I cannot let you go to-day; I want you." 

" God help me, John the son of Thomas, but I 
must go ; this is the last day of gavating, and if I 
don't go, I shall have no certificate to get a clean 
passport ; I will be back in a few minutes." 

" How can you manage to confess all your year's 
sins in a few minutes ?" 

"Your honour, if I had only five kopecks, the 
pope would keep me a long time ; but I have a rouble, 
and that will get me through in five minutes ; I know 
how to do." Off the fellow went, and returned in 
less than half an hour with all his spiritual accounts 
squared. On the Sunday after this week of confes- 
sion, all Russia is cleaned and purged of twelve 
months' sins. 

A dramatic exhibition of the resurrection is given 
in every church in the empire on the Saturday even- 
ing at twelve o'clock precisely. On Easter* Sun- 
day here are kisses and congratulations, eggs are 



THE CEREMONY OF CONFESSION. 117 

handed about £rom hand to hand, feastmg is at 
its hdght, and the hospitals are fiill by Tuesday or 
Wednesday. 

There is a manufactory near St. Petersburg, at 
which about two thousand hands used to be em- 
ployed. On a week previous to a certain Easter 
Sunday, while confession was going on, in order to 
take as httle time &om Mammon as possible, the 
machinery was stopped in sections, and the people 
were permitted to go in batches, according to the 
nature of the work at which they were employed. 
Weavers confessed together at one time, spinners at 
another, and so on. Connected with, and adjoining, 
these works was the church where confession took 
place, and a private passage led from the works to 
the church by which the penitents passed into the 
church : having confessed, they went into the street 
by the main church entrance to go home. Now, in 
Kussia, all workpeople are strictly searched by male 
and female searchers as they pass out from their 
place of employment ; but in confessing season when 
these particular workpeople went direct to the 
church, by the private way, to confess a yearns sins 
in the lump, the right of search had never been en- 
forced. But on a certain day the director of this 
fectory received a hint concerning this omission, 
and took his measures accordingly. At eleven 
o'clock a large batch (four hundred in all) of women, 
young and married, girls and old wives, left their 
various posts, and took their way across the yard, 
with demure and penitent looks, to the private 



118 BUSSIAU LIFE. 

entrance, where they were admitted as nsnal, filling 
the stairs and passages. When all were insido, the 
bottom door was bolted and guarded. Means of 
escape being thus cut off, the firont rank on ap- 
proaching the door of communication with the 
church, found half-ardozen searchers, backed by as 
many policemen. The first two women searched 
were stripped of a large quantity of valuable ma- 
terial secreted under their clothes, in their boots — ^in 
fact, wherever they could stow it. Each had as 
great a weight of plunder as she could possibly carry. 
The work of searching went on, but the mass of 
women on the stairs and in the passages got scent of 
the presence of the searchers. The word was passed, 
a peculiar sound was heard as of many persons 
dressing and undressing, and in a few minutes the 
women were all standing as innocent as lambs and 
as harmless as doves, up to their knees in material, 
valued, according to an after-computation, at five 
hundred pounds sterling. 

This had been going on for years. But let it be 
remembered that the people are not taught morality 
and honesty as part of their religion. 

I will attempt to give an idea of what Holy 
Bussia can achieve in this line. Saint Nicholas, or 
Nikoli as he is termed in Russia, was "a saint so 
clever," who, many years ago, lived on the banks of 
Lake Ladago the Great. He was a man reputed for 
his wonderful sanctity, austerity, and wisdom. Many 
extraordinary cures had he effected, which were as- 
cribed by the simple peasants to supernatural power. 



HOLY NIEOLI. 119 

He belonged to the real old tincoiTupted Greek re- \^ 

ligion, such as it was in the days of its purity ; he 
flagellated himself unmercifully for his deficiencies, 
benaoaned the falling off of the primitive faith, and 
prophesied dire calamities in consequence. One of 
his favourite prophetic visions was the downfall of the 
Ottoman empire, the total destruction of all the 
Turks, the substitution of Russia for those " dogs" in 
the East, in the reign of a namesake of his own, a 
Nikoli, and the simultaneous restoration of the pure 
old faith. One day he was on a sloping bank of 
the great lake, seated on a large boulder-stone, talk- 
ing and speaking words of wisdom to friends who 
had come a long way to hear him, and at the same 
time inwardly praying to be removed to the capital, 
that he might have there a wider field of duty, and 
^ve his counsel to the emperor, who was at that time 
consolidating Petersburg. At once the stone on 
which he sat began to move, and, sUding gently 
down towards the lake, carried him with it, in spite 
of the exertions of his friends. On the lake the 
stone swam like a duck, and set ofl^, dead against the 
wind, across the sea (the Ladago is some sixty miles 
broad, and eighty long). Nikoli waved a farewell to 
his astonished friends, and calmly held his course. 
For six weeks he sailed on, buffeting winds and 
waves, not knowing whither he went. At length he 
passed from the great lake into the Neva. But he 
did not reach the capital. A ukase had gone out 
against the arrival of any more big stones, or mono- 
liths after that which Peter rides on, in the Admiralty 



120 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

Plains. Nikoli's stone must have known this, for 
when it came to a place called Ishora, it turned into* 
a small tributary, and held on up the narrow river, 
dead against the stream, for four good miles. Then 
it stopped stone-stiU at the village of Colpino, where 
the saint was obliged to get off and land. It so hap- 
pened that just as NikoK came sailing up this small 
river, the peasants had collected and were dancing 
one of their holiday dances. They saw the strange 
sight of an old man sailing on a stone, and thought 
they saw the Evil One. "Ohurt! churt!" they 
cried, and ran off. One man, however, who had 
more sense, cried out, " God be with us ! that is old 
Nikoli Nikoliovitch from the Ladago, the wise man." 
This discriminating man took the poor exhausted 
mariner in, and dried his feet, set bread before him, 
got the samovar ready, and laid him on the peach 
bed, doing all he could to revive his poor weather- 
beaten frame. But the saint's time was come; he 
died in the arms of his kind entertainer, prophesying 
many events, "which have all come to pass," and 
having by this expedition on the stone entitled him- 
self to be canonised and placed in the highest rank 
among Greek saints. So, canonised he was; a pic- 
ture of him was made and encased under silver, with 
rays of glory springing jfrom his head; the picture 
was hung up in a frame, and a small church built 
on the spot where he died. To this church resorted 
many thousands every year on the anniversary of 
his death, the ninth of May. They who had diseases 
were healed, the lame walked and the blind saw, 



NIKOLI AT COLPmO. 121 

after a visit to Colpino on the saint's day. By and 
by the Empress Catherine established at this place a 
cannon-foundry, and brought Gasgoine, from Carron 
in Scotland, to teach her to make guns. He brought 
more people, and she also sent a host of Russians ; 
so the little church became too small, besides being 
foimd at an inconvenient distance from the great 
new village. Then there was built a grand new 
church, as large and handsome as any ordinary saint 
could desire, for Nikoli ; and as he had been a source 
of great profit in the old church, it was deemed that 
he would be more profitable than ever in the new 
one. They thought, therefore, to remove him ; and 
one day they did, with great pomp and ceremony, 
remove him from arfiong his old friends and old 
faces. The CCTemony over and the door locked, the 
pi>pes retiredto play at cards at a party in Vassilia 
Petrovitch's grand government house. But if Nikoli 
came to Colpino on a stone without any free will of 
his own, he was not going to be removed from his 
old comfortable quarters by the will of the priests 
without his own sanction ; so he got up in the night, 
kicked open the door, walked three miles back to his 
dear old church, and hung himself up again on his old 
nail, close to the altar. There he was found in the 
morning. The priests were not to be put out by an 
old picture, so they took Nikoli back, double nailed 
him, rolled stones to the door of the church, and 
set a watch. It wouldn't do. Nikoli came out at 
a window, and was found in his old berth on the 
morning of the second day. The priests now 



122 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

appealed to the empress, who sent Potemkin to 
negotiate with the saint, and after considerable 
trouble he managed to bring the old fellow to 
terms. Nikoli consented to be removed, on the 
condition that on the ninth of May in every year, 
for all time to come, a procession of great priests 
should carry him on a visit to the old church, 
and carry him back. For he was determined 
that the people should have this opportunity of 
receiving his blessing and enjoying his miraculous 
healing powers. This is the legend; now for its 
effects. 

For a week previous to the ninth of May I have 
seen the principal road to Colpino gradually as- 
suming the appearance of the road leading to some 
great fair. Pilgrims of all ages and both sexes 
begin to pass me first singly and at intervals, then 
by groups in closer file, until the road is covered 
with weary, travel-stained, footsore, and hungry- 
looking travellers. Many of them come from &r 
distances, two or three hundred miles away. The 
great proportion are not moushicks, or mere pea- 
sants, but very respectably-dressed persons above 
the rank of serfs, and evidently possessing means. 
They are nearly all barefoot, and carry the pilgrim's 
staff and wallet. They must not enter a house on 
their journey, unless they would spoil the blessing 
they expect. The sun may be blazing on their de- 
voted heads, the rain may be coming down in tor- 
rents : this does not signify ; on flows the stream of 
devotees. I have seen them ill and sick and fainting, 



A RELIGIOUS PILGBIMAQE. 123 

and I have seen cordials given to them by kind 
English women. The lame pass, and the blind, and 
the rheumatic, and people afflicted with various 
diseases ; sick children in the arms of their fond 
mothers, and old tottering age supported by stalwart 
sons and daughters. On the eighth the road is 
densely crowded ; the Petersburg pilgrims who do not 
take the liberty " to boil their peas" start in the even- 
ing to walk all night, and arrive in good time in the 
morning. For those who do " boil their peas," trains 
run to Colpino, beginning early on the ninth, and 
pour out their teeming freight at the stations every 
half hour until twelve o'clock. Those who can com- 
mand a team, drive down, instead of mixing with the 
poorer sinners in the train. The pedestrians and 
more sincere dupes have by this time reached the 
spot, so that on the final day, carriages only are 
seen on the road. 

I have been .present at Colpino Place on the 
evening of the eighth, and have seen from fifteen 
thousand to twenty thousand wayfarers such as I 
have described, lying in the wind and rain all night 
around the church. I have been there on the ninth, 
and have seen this number doubled by fresh arrivals 
from Petersburg by train and road. Taking my 
stand at ten o'clock to see the procession which 
begins at noon, I have had to wait until one, because 
Nikoli would not consent to move until the large 
iron box for offerings was filled with money. I have 
gone into the church and taken my hat off to as 
ugly an old saint as it is possible to see; I have 



124 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

waited — ^not, I am afraid, in a very patient frame of 
mind — until my eyes have been gladdened by the 
sight of the holy banners, old tawdry and moth-eaten 
images and pictures, to the number of thirty, carried 
each by two priests clothed in sacred vestments. Then 
I have seen this great multitude rushing, crushing, 
squeezing, and pushing, to get into the line of march, 
and prostrating themselves in the mud in a long line 
huddled together, a mile long and more, enjoying 
the extreme felicity of having these banners and pic- 
tures — but especially old Nikoli, in a worm-eaten 
frame — carried over them by the priests, who trod 
without mercy on the poor superstitious slaves. 
Then, as I have thought of the Indian Juggernaut, 
I have had my hat knocked over my ears, because 
I forgot to take it off as the humiliating spectacle 
passed by. I have followed this immense crowd with 
my eyes, as the people rushed again and again to be 
trampled over by the priests, and throw themselves 
again and again in the mud and dirt before and 
under the images. I have heard of miraculous cures 
effected on that great day ; of those who came blind, 
going away seeing ; of those who came on crutches, 
going away without them ; of those who brought 
rheumatisms, leaving them behind; and even of 
women who never had children, bearing children 
thereafter. Beyond what I have described, however, 
nothing was to be seen, unless it were the shows, the 
dancing bears, the sweetmeat stands, and the segans 
or gipsies, brown as copper, who are miracle-workers, 
and who for half a rouble read my hand, and be- 



I 



OABD-PLAYIKG. 125 

stowed upon me three wives, fifteen children, and 
four estates. 

On leaving the church I happened to fall in be- 
side Saunderson ; and as we proceeded to the count's 
residence I asked him what he knew of the morals of 
these Bussian priests. *' Is card-playing a very com- 
mon thing with them?" 

"Common I Why, all Eussia is ready to play 
cards morning, noon, and night. Shuffle, shuflje, 
shuffle, and deal. The emperor's whole court plays ; 
the aristocracy play to a man ; the ladies, of all 
grades, fill up their time at cards — ^Fool, Your-own- 
Trump, Three-Leaves, Kings, Windmill, and a hun- 
dred other games. The shopkeepers sit playing 
cards for hours at their shopdoors. The bargeman 
in his boat, the peasant in his hut, children, young 
men, girls, all play at cards. Many an estate changes 
hands in an evening. I have known three hundred 
men, women, and children, and a large property 
staked on a single game. But these long-haired, 
long-bearded, broad-brims of lazy priests are of all 
such gamblers the most incessant. I will tell you an 
instance of my own knowledge." 

And this is what Saunderson told : 

You saw that fat, tall priest, with the large brown 
beard, who sprinkled the holy water on the bairns. 
Weel, he is the head pope of this church, and lives 
beside it; in fact, there is a covered passage leading 
from the church to his house direct. One evening, 
before a saint's day, I was on a visit to Mr. Pins, who 
lives in that wooden house beside yon cotton-mill in 



126 BUSSIAN LIFE« 

the* hollow, and we were enjoying ourselves as we 
best could, when a message came from the priest 
to ask us all to supper. He had a few friends with 
him, and would be glad to see us. As nothing of 
this kind is to be reftised, we went — ^I, and Pins, 
and his wife and daughter. The priest's friends were 
two beardies like himself, who were to assist next day 
in church ; his wife also, of course, was there. Sup- 
per over, cards were introduced, and down sat Pins 
and the three holy men to the game, while I was left 
to entertain the leddies as weel as I could. The four 
gamblers gradually forgot every thing else in the 
room, the head priest being the most intent of the 
four. The game went on. Now Pins swept the 
table of roubles, and anon one or other of the priests 
— the head man evidently losing fast, and Pins 
winning. 

Tenapers got lost, and scarcely civil words were 
exchanged[amongst the party. I could see Pins's red 
face, glowing like a nor'-west moon, under the flush 
of excitement and brandy. As we had supped late, 
Sunday morning was on us before I was aware. Two 
o'clock struck, and Mrs. Pins and I jumped to our 
feet. Two o'clock on a Sunday morning in a minis- 
ter's house playing cards, the gamblers priests of the 
Holy Greek Church ! It was against the conscience 
of a Scot to assist at such on-goings,^ — not that I am 
straitlaced to an hour or two, considering the diffe- 
rence of clocks. I therefore energetically backed 
Mrs. Pins, who was requesting her husband to go 
home. Pins rose — ^but reluctantly, as it seemed to 



THE PRIEST AT HIS CARDS. 127 

me — and was about to accompany us. The priest 
had no mind to let him go off so easily. He and 
his partner had won two hundred roubles, and it was 
clearly against all roles to run away so soon. The 
others must have their revenge — ^it was only two 
o'clock. So he sat down again, saying, "Go, my 
dear, with Mr. Saunderson. I'll play the old fellows 
till daylight, if they like. It shall never be said that 
an Englishman shirked off because his pocket was 
fidl of other people's money." 

As our host politely showed us to the door 
he said to me, "Do you attend the church at 
eight?" 

" Yes, it is my intention ; but I don't think you 
will be there in a fit state, if you play much longer. 
It is a shame." 

"No fear," he said; "but your firiend has won 
much money, and I must have my turn. It is 
nothing." 

At seven o'clock I was awoke by a servant with 
information that his master had not returned, and 
that madame desired me to walk to the priest's house 
and see how matters stood. I dressed hastily, and 
went to the parsonage, rectory, or what shall I call 
it? As I passed the church I saw that it was in 
course of preparation for the morning performances ; 
but my business was not with the church, it was 
with the priests. Just as I reached the door a 
clerk (decchock) was entering. He was a dirty, 
yellow, sickly fellow, with a flavouring of stale 
tobacco. 



128 BUSSIAir LIFE. 

" Where is the pope, Vassilia?'' I said. 

" Yonder/' pointing to the room I had so lately 
left. 

" Playing stfll I It is too bad." 

"To be sure; it is nothing. I have known 
master play two days and nights at a stretch. But it 
is now time for service, and I must tell him.** 

I pushed past him into the room. It was Sab- 
bath mom, half-an-hour before service, and the men 
who were to officiate sat round a table with flushed 
faces, eager looks, dishevelled hair, and ruffled attire. 
Candles were burnt down in their sockets, daylight 
streamed in through the shutterless windows. The 
brandy and wine bottles were empty. A great jug of 
" ghuass " was on a side-table, old cards littered the 
painted floor, and the atmosphere was reeking with 
the fumes of the " papeross ;" for smoking was still 
going on. I saw at a glance that the tide of luck 
had left the Englishman. The priest was buoyant ; 
he was flat. 

" They are winning it back," he said to me as I 
entered; "I have had three hundred, now have but 
fifty." 

" Ay," said the tall priest, " and this game will 
get that back also ; it is for fifty — ^is it not I" 

Then the clerk entered, and advanced with as 
little show of concern as if the exhibition was a 
fit and usual preparation for the church rites, and 
after reverentially crossing himself, intimated to the 
priest in chief that in half-an-hour it would be his 
time to go in to commence the services. 



VIGIL AND MATINS. 129 

"Very good, Vassilia, my son. Don't disturb 
me now, but listen; — come back exactly three 
minutes before eight." 

" I hear, and obey," said Vassilia, and vanished. 

I cannot say these men were drunk ; on the con- 
trary, they seemed more sober than they had been 
when I left them at two o'clock ; but the demon of 
play held them in his grip ; they were as fresh for it, 
and as absorbed as if they had only played two or 
three hours. My remonstrances and expostulations 
^ere thrown away, and in indignant curiosity I sat 
down to watch the end. 

The priest and his partner lost. Pins and his 
partner won another fifty. The next game was to be 
double or quits, the deal made with a fresh pack ; 
and, as I sat in full view of the tall priest, I could 
see his face brighten up, and a look of intelligence 
pass between him and his partner. At this moment 
the decchock again entered. "Three minutes to 
eight o'clock." 

All but the tall priest threw their cards on the 
table and rose, saying, " A fresh deal after service." 

*^ No, no," he said, " keep your hand, partner ; I 
shall keep mine, it is a good one ; and we shall play 
the game after our return : here, Vassilia, give me 
a towel, wet : that will do. Now my robes, — ^there — 
that comb ; and now go every one to your posts. I 
shall be there presently." Thus saying, he pro- 
ceeded with a firm step to the church by the private 
entrance already mentioned. As he left the room I 
saw him place his good hand of cards within his 

K 



130 BTJSSIAN LIFE. 

sacred robes, under the inside fastening. He was 
evidently determined not to lose sight of his tramps, 
and carried them off on his person into the church. 
I ran round to the front entrance, and was just in 
time to witness the commencement of the service. It 
is a wonder judgment did not fall on the chief priest. 
And it did in a way. At one part of the service, just 
as he was stepping on the platform, he put his hand 
inside his robe to pull out his handkerchief, and, as he 
drew it out, the cards came also mibidden, and fell 
scattered over the altar floor. This would have para- 
lysed any ordinary man ; but that priest never winced 
for a moment. He looked coolly at the cards, then 
steadily at the people, as much as to say, " You all 
see that; take notice of it. I shall tell you about 
that by and by." He then continued the services. 
At the close he pointed to the cards — ^then beckoned 
a little peasant boy, with a shock head of white 
flaxen hair, dressed in a shirt of coarse linen and 
trousers to match, not very clean, who had been 
crossing and bending beside a poor peasant woman, 
his mother : 

" Come here, boy !" The boy went. Turning 
to the congregation, he said : " I shall give you a 
lesson you will not forget for some time. You see 
these cards lying on the floor. Do you think I put 
them there for nothing? We shall see. What is 
your name, my boy?" 

" Peter Petrovitch." 

" Well, Peter Petrovitch, go and pick up one of 
those cardjs you see on the floor, and bring it to me. 



CAKDS WITH A GWSS ON THEM. 151 

There, that will do. Now tell me, Peter Petrovitch, 
what card is this ?" 

^^ The ace of spades," said the boy, with ready 
knowledge. 

" Very goody Peter Petrovitch ; bring me another, 
that's a good boy. What card is that f 

" The queen of spades," said Peter. 

" How well you know them, Peter Petrovitch ! 
bring another. And what may that one be ?" 

"The ten of hearts." 

" That will do, Peter, the son of Peter. Now 
turn round and look at this picture. Can you tell 
me what saint it represents ?" 

The boy scratched his head, then shrugged his 
little shoulders, lifting them up to his ears, then 
scratched his head again, and said : " Ya naes nigh.'* 
(I don't know.) 

" Now look at this one. Who is this ?" 

The same answer. 

"And this?" 

" I cannot tell." 

" That will do, Peter, the son of Peter. You may 
go to your mother." 

Turning to the people, he continued : 

" Do you know now for what purpose I put these 
cards on the floor? Do you not think shame of your- 
selves, tell me — say, is it not disgraceful and scandal- 
ous that that nice white-haired boy can tell me in a 
moment the name of every card in the pack, and yet 
he does not know the name of one of the blessed 
saints ? O, shame, shame on ye, so to bring up the 



132 BUSSIAN LIFS. 

young, after all the good teaching I have given ye ! 
Go away aqd learn the lesson I have given you this 
blessed day. Don't forget it, and don't force me to 
bring cards into this holy place again. Vassilia, pick 
the other cards up, and keep them for me." 

So with solemn step he left the church to play out 
his interrupted game for a hundred roubles. 

I have given this sketch of a Russian card-playing 
priest simply as I got it, and nearly in the narrator's 
own words, omitting Scotticisms, but retaining the 
train of thought. Of its literal truth my own expe- 
rience of the priests, and my later knowledge of the 
friend whom I call Saunderson, as well as Mr. Pins, 
entirely assures me. 



CHAPTER X. 

RITES OF HOSPITALITY. 

Count Pomerin's residence was on a slight rise, 
sloping down among gardens and trees to the valley. 
We entered his grounds by a large wooden gateway, 
and passing through a short avenue of trees over a 
broad well-kept gravelled path, bordered with flowers 
and shrubs, a turn to the left with a short curve 
brought us in sight of the count's birthplace and 
principal country seat. It was a very long and large 
wooden building, but I afterwards found it to be only 
of wood. It seemed to be of brick, and plastered. 
Three parts of it were of one story, but very high, 
and the other part, which formed the servants' esta- 
blishment, of two stories. The principal end had 
large broad windows looking out on a flat lawn, in- 
tersected here and there with gravelled walks, and I 
could see gymnastic poles, swinging trees, &c., at the 
farther comer. In the middle of the lawn (which 
might cover three acres), and all about it, in confused 
disorder, were a great many temporary structures, for 
what purpose I was soon to learn. 

The large windows were all brilliantly lighted up, 
as if for an illumination. About twenty serfs with 



134 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

blazing pine torches met us as we turned the comer, 
and preceded us to the main entrance. This was sur- 
rounded by men and women of various degrees, all in 
the holiday costume of the country, who raised a sort 
of uncouth cheer as we advanced. Across the thres- 
hold of the door there lay stretched out the grisly 
carcases of the two old bears. Around these very 
material mementoes of the Englishman's skill in rifle- 
practice the twenty pine-torch bearers assembled, 
flaring and waving their torches. 

Tlie vestibule, or hall, or lobby, was one blaze of 
light. In the centre was a table, on which was 
erected a very handsome oberis, image, or joss ; in 
front, on the table, lay a large silver salver containing 
pieces of black bread, and stands of the same material 
for salt. A lady stood on each side of the table, one 
old, the other much younger ; these were the mother 
and grandmother of the count, countesses both. As 
he leapt from his horse and jumped into the hall over 
the bears, the younger lady ran into his arms and 
embraced him. All this — ^with the twenty or thirty 
horsemen dismounting, grooms in red shirts and wide 
black velvet trousers stuck into their boots and falling 
in folds over the sides, and a crowd of stoUd staring 
peasants in the background — ^gave the scene a lively 
and uncommon character. 

" What does it mean ?" I said to the tallcative 
Scotchman. 

" That's mair than I know," said he, " but I sus- 
pect it is some kindly nonsense of my lady countess — 
some old custom." 



RITES OF HOffiPITAElTY. 135 

As he spoke, the county who had been taUdng to 
his mother, came out and said to us : 

'^ It seems we are to have a little mummery. My 
lady mother kindly insists on receiving my guests, 
and more particularly the Englishman who saved her 
wild bo/s life, in a true old Eussian style. The 
ceremony is simple, over in a moment ; but let me 
tell you for your comfort that after it has been gone 
through, feudal fashion, my guests are pecuUarly 
sacred in my house and on my property, and are to 
be defended from injury with all the means I possess. 
Now therefore, my friend, advance, and as you cross 
this bear trample him under your feet." 

Harry stepped forward, swinging his great arms 
about as if he did not know where to put them, 
crossed the barrier, was received at the table by the 
two ladies, and warmly greeted by the countess in 
good English as the preserver of her son ; the black 
bread and salt (previously blessed by the priest) were 
oflfered to him, and then he was hurried off to the 
bath by two attendants in red shirts. Saunderson 
followed as the second bear-killer, and went through 
the same process, with the exception of the bath. It 
was my tmii next, and as I accepted the bread and 
salt the countess said, with a sweet smile, " You are 
very welcome — I cannot tell you how much. Your 
family is aU gone to rest till morning. There, Con- 
stantine, show the baron the bath." 

I was conducted to the rear of the building, and 
introduced into a very comfortable room, where two 
strong fellows were waiting to commence operations 



186 BUSSIAK LIFS. 

on my poor wearied body. This outer room was very 
well furnished. It might measure about five yards 
by eight. The floor was covered with some kind of 
soft matting, on which a clean canvas cloth was 
spread. There were two excellent large luxurious 
sofas, a wardrobe, tables, chairs, looking-glass, towels, 
and all the necessaries for the toilet. I perceived 
also a suit of my own clothes spread out on one of the 
tables. I threw myself on a sofa, exhausted, and 
&om that moment became a passive lump of human 
material in the hands of my two attendants. My fiir 
boots were dragged off and tossed into the wardrobe ; 
fur coat and under-clothes shared the same fate. As 
each article was removed I felt relief inexpressible. 
These garments had not left my body for nine days 
and nights, and as the last was taken ftom me my 
sense of enjoyment reached its climax. But the rehef 
was too much. I felt a total prostration of body. 
The energies so long kept on the stretch, the nerves 
so long braced to the perils of the journey, gave way, 
and I swooned for the first and only time in my 
life. 

I think I may be forgiven this weakness when it 
is remembered through what roads we had come, the 
fatigue being enhanced in my case a hundredfold by 
the care and responsibility attaching to the party of 
women and children accompanying me, and more 
especially by the fact that being chancellor of the 
exchequer, and having to pay the yeamshick money 
at every station, besides other small matters, I had 
not enjoyed two hours' consecutive sleep for nine 



IN A BXTSSIAN BATH. 13T 

days and nights. This is the paymaster's grief on 
a long Russian journey. 

But I am lying naked and insensible in the outer 
room of a Russian bath. The two moushicks had 
emptied a bottle of eau-de-cologne from my lady's 
repository over my head and face, and were applying 
a brandy stimulant when I recovered. 

" You are tired, baron ; but we will soon mend 
you. Don't stir." Without more ado they lifted me 
up like an infant, and carried me into the inner room, 
where the atmosphere was considerably warmer. Into 
a bath lined with lead, and nearly filled with water, I 
was then plunged without ceremony. At first the 
water felt so hot that I thought I must be scalded, 
but after a time it became so delicious that I felt 
willing to remain, so bathed, for ever. But ^ my pre- 
sent possessors were of another mind. I was lifted 
out and placed on a bench like a fiat trough beside 
the bath. There I was roUed and turned, and firmly 
rubbed all over with handfuls of mat fibres and soap 
dipped every second or two into the hot water. I was 
scrubbed remorselessly by my determined nurses ; I 
might kick and struggle, but it was all one. They 
grinned, held me down, and scrubbed on for a mortal 
quarter of an hour. I thought the skin would be 
peeled off my body, and felt sharp prickly shooting 
needle-point pains at every pore. Then I was 
plunged into the bath again in hotter water, and 
forcibly held there for five minutes. I was in hope 
this might end the process, and signified a determina- 
tion to get back to the outer room — but no. 



138 RTJSSIJLKr LIFE. 

" We have received orders to make you clean and 
well. Heaven help us, how angry you arel Our 
orders must be obeyed. You must now go into the 
^ stove-room.' " It was of no use to resist. I resigned 
myself to my fate, was lifted out of the bath and 
carried into the vapour den, the essential part of a 
Kussian bath. 

What I had gone through had been only prepara- 
tory. This place might be twelve feet high, lined 
with closely-fitting boards on the roof and all round, 
so that no steam might escape. In the centre of the 
floor there rose broad steps of wood, commencing 
from two sides, and terminating in a large flat board 
on the top. This board, crowning the* edifice, was 
about two feet below the roof. The steam or vapour 
was raised in this manner : — ^A large stove of brick, 
like a baker's oven, stood in a comer and nearly filled 
one-fourth of the apartment. It had been heated 
almost red-hot, the red charred embers of the burnt 
wood remaining in it. One of the men seized an 
iron ladle, and with it cast water into the fiery gulf. 
The steam or vapour thus generated rushed out, 
rising to the roof for vent, and finding none it filled 
the place. I was laid at first on the bottom step of 
the centre erection, as being the coolest, the vapour 
increasing in density and power the higher it rose. 
Even here I felt nearly suffocated with the steam. 
The rubbing* recommenced with fresh vigour, and 
now buckets of cold water were poured over me, each 
bucketful having the effect of a shock from a power- 
ful galvanic batter}". 



IN A. EUSSIAN BATH. 139 

Step by step was I lifted np, whfle the rubbing 
and dashing of cold water went on alternately, and 
additional water was thrown into the oven, increasing 
the density of the steam at every application. At 
last they got me on the flat step at the very top, with 
my nose nearly touching the roof. There I lay in a 
dense body of hot vapour, hot enough to scald me had 
my body not been previously tempered for it. I did 
not know when it was all to end. 

I had observed, on my admission to this den of 
steam, several instruments of torture, of the use of 
which I had a vague presentiment. There were 
bundles of birch twigs about half or thi'ee-quarteits of 
a yard long, the leaves still remaining on one end, 
but bare where they were tied together, and about 
two inches in diameter. My tormentors armed them- 
selves with these weapons, and made an onslaught in 
no tender manner upon my defenceless body, flagel- 
lating me back, front, and on both sides, turning 
me round and round, to get at every comer. More 
steam was raised during the process; until I felt as 
if I were in a steam-boiler without a safety-valve, 
with a pressure of a hundred pounds to the square 
inch, and ready to be blown out through the roof 
at any moment.. Still every few minutes a pail of 
cold water streamed hissing from my poor scalded 
flesh. My man with the mighty arms was, I under- 
stood, undergoing the same process in another place. 
There was no help for me but in myself. All my 
lost energies had returned in fresh vigour; I felt 
ready to grapple with a bear, and vas by this time as 



140 BUSSIAN LIPB. 

elastic and buoyant as I had before been nerveless. 
Watching an opportunity, as one of my executioners 
was fetching a fresh pail of cold water as a prelude 
to another flagellation, I discharged my foot at his 
stomach. He rolled down the steps, taking the legs 
from the other, and they both lay sprawling together 
on the floor. This was my time. Rolling myself 
carefully but speedily down the steps, I jumped to 
my feet, and rushed into the middle room. The men 
followed me, laughing. 

" Ah ! Heaven be thanked, your honour is strong 



« And clean," 1 1 

" Yes ; clean as new milk." 

At any rate, I was as red as a boiled lobster. I 
felt capable of beginning my whole journey over 
again. A short time spent in drying with towels, 
cooling, and dressing, in the outer room, completed 
the performance. It had lasted one hour, and I left 
the bath strong, fresh, and vigorous, with a delight- 
fully happy and soothing sensation creeping over me, 
as the blood danced and coursed with a pleasurable 
swiftness through my veins. 

The Russian bath is a great fact. The whole 
people, rich and poor, are continually undergoing a 
process more or less similar to what I have described. 
The Russian people are said to be dirty and filthy, 
yet the bath is religiously attended to. This is one 
of the great Russian questions : How can people who 
plunge and steam themselves in the bath, as they do, 
be dirty? But "give a dog a bad name," &c. If 



THE BATH. 141 

the Russians are so dirty as some books tell us thej 
are, it must be that their bodies contain clay in the 
raw ; so the more they rub, the dirtier they are. But 
the truth is that the higher ranks are scrupulously 
clean in clothes and person, and the persons of the 
lower classes are cleaner than those of the inhabitants 
of some favoured lands where baths are almost un- 
known. Yet the Russian has too much of a good 
thing, or rather spoils a good thing by his own way of 
using it. 

The constant broiling, steaming, and flagellating 
gives a pale sickly yellow hue to the complexion of 
the young, and ultimately enfeebles the whole consti- 
tution. On the other hand, considering the descrip- 
tion of food used by the great bulk of the Russian 
poor, but for these baths the stench from their bodies 
would be as unbearable as that from the African 
negro. As it is, it is any thing but pleasant (espe- 
cially in fasting-time). But for these baths, one 
could not with a settled stomach sit behind a drosky- 
driver. The great mass of the Russiam poor never 
touch soap nor water except at the bath. Workmen, 
artisans, peasants, shopkeepers, and even merchants, 
with their wives and families, use very Kttle inter- 
mediate cleansing. They eat, work, and sleep, with- 
out washing hands or face until the regular bath 
time. But at this time you may see an entire popu- 
lation on the move, going to bath with small bundles 
of clean clothes, soap, towel, and birch-broom. Large 
public and smaller private baths are in the cities and 
towns. Every village — even the smallest hamlet — 



142 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

has its bath for the people. The great mass in towns 
are accommodated in monster establishments erected 
by private individuals. They have steam-engines for 
pumping water, and a host of attendants. One large 
part is devoted to the poor, and is separated for the 
sexes. This part can accommodate three hundred or 
four hundred at once in each establishment, and the 
charge is a penny for each person. Other parts are 
suitable for select parties ; and luxurious family or 
private rooms can be had at proportionate prices, 
from eighteenpence to six shilUngs. From these 
baths, where they are bom, thousands of illegitimaite 
children are transferred to the foundling hospitals. 
Other mfants are taken there by their mothers as 
soon as possible after birth. On the evening before 
marriage the bride is taken to the bath by a band 
of her maiden companions, each armed with such a 
birch as I have described, and there she is forced to 
certain confessions under a torrent of light blows. 
After a death, all the remaining household must go 
to the bath. After and before taking a journey, the 
bath. Before every holiday festival and Sunday, the 
bath. For rheumatisms, fevers, colds, and diseases of 
all kinds, the bath. Take from a Russian his children, 
his wife, any thing, but leave him his bath, and there 
is consolation. If the Emperor Alexander were to 
publish a ukase to shut up the baths, he would fall 
in a month. Paul's crusade against beards was bad 
enough, but a bath-abolition bill would smash the 
empire. 

Alter my bath I found a party assembled in 



DINNER ^ lA RUSeE. 143 

the grand dining saloon waiting dinner for me. The 
guests consisted of six ^Russian gentlemen who had 
been in the hunt ; the card-playing priest and a fel- 
low broadbrim ; Monsieur Defour, a French gentle- 
man who rented the count's sugar-works ; Pins, Saun- 
derson, Harry, and four ladies, besides the countess 
and her mother. 

A genuine Bussian dinner on a great occasion is 
not quite copied by the English diner a la Russe. 
On a side-table were placed decanters containing 
doppel, keppel, cognac, and other spirits, and beside 
these lay plates of raw herrings, caviare, sardines, and 
small hard pieces of black bread and white. Those 
who desired an appetiser swallowed one or two small 
glasses of spirits and ate herring, caviare, or sardine. 
The ladies do this as well as the gentlemen. After 
this necessary and important preliminary, which was 
executed standing, fork in hand, we were all seated, 
and the real business commenced. Smart lacqueys 
in drab Hveries and blue faciiags, with white cravats 
and gloves, served in successive dishes a dinner, of 
which, for the sake of those interested in such mat- 
ters, I will give the menu* 

Isschee, a soup made from sour cabbage, and very 
good when well made; beef-tea; mushroom pie, cut 
in slices ; teegee, a fish nearly equal to salmon ; cold 
veal, with sauce ; roast beef; venison ; devilled tur- 
key; chickens; all these meats with sauces; wild 
fowl ; game ; iced cream, strawberries and cream, con- 
fectionery of many kinds, kissell (a sort of jeUy), in 
various colours; apples and jargonelle pears (these 



144 BUS8IAN UFA. 

pears are in Kussia three sHllings apiece)^ raisins, 
nuts, sweets, cojBFee, and cigars. The wines were nu- 
merous and superb. Black bread and white, baked 
and roasted potatoes, Dublin and Allsopp's ales, and 
the favourite London porter at six shillings a bottle. 
The silver plate was profuse, the crockery fine china ; 
the cookery faultless. The conversation was kept up 
with spirit, but only between the courses, and each 
course appeared ready cut up, to be served by the 
footmen carrying it round. 

After dinner there were toasts, accompanied by 
speeches of a few words each, all but one from the 
Scotchman, a yard long, in proposing the Count and 
Countess Pomerin. When the company was in a 
good humour for any thing, the count rose, and said : 

" My friends, I have designed a little performance, 
which I shall now introduce. It is the settlement of 
a small affair between me and my good friend and 
tenant Monsieur Defour, now present. I bet him, 
certain terms, that I should in six weeks tame a wild 
horse of his. This is the last day of the time specified, 
and we are within a few hours of its entire expiration. 
You shall judge between us. Ladies, I beg you will 
be so kind as to keep your seats, and let no one be in 
the smallest degree alarmed at what will now take 
place. Timossy, tell John we are all ready." 

We were all sitting in the centre of the hall, with 
a clear space roimd us of considerable extent. The 
door opened, and a magnificent jet-black charger, of 
the Arabian breed, bounced into the room, blowing 
clouds of smoke from his nostrils. He had no bridle 



A HOBSE IN THE DINING-BOOM. 145 

nor saddle, nor any attendant. His flowing mane 
waved in rich masses half way down, and his tail 
swept the floor. 

Some of the gentlemen sprang up from their 
seats, and the ladies screamed. 

" I implore you all to sit quiet ; there is no dan- 
ger in the least," cried the count. " Do sit down." 
When we were all seated again, he said, " Come here, 
Nereckta, and kiss me ;" and he held his arms out. 
The horse went straight to the head of the table and 
held up his great lips to be kissed. "There, now,'* 
and the count stamped on the floor twice, " go round 
the room and make your bow to the ladies." The 
horse immediately obeyed, and approaching the ladies 
(who all sat together), bowed four times. But there 
were six ladies. The count said, " Again ;" but the 
horse refused. " In the rehearsal," said the count, 
" we had only four lady dummies. I must pass that 
part." He then gave him some sweet cake, and 
stamping three times, told him to go down on his 
knees and beg pardon for intruding on the company. 
The animal went gently down on one knee, and bent 
his head twice to the ground in great humility. 

" Now, then, get up and drink to the health of 
all here." A tin cain was handed to the count, who 
emptied two bottles of champagne into it, close to the 
horse's head. He held up his head before drinking, 
gave a poUte neigh to the company, and leisurely 
drank off the champagne. The count then jumped 
on his back, and was carried quietly twice round the 
room. 

L 



146 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

" The remaining part of the play,'' said the count, 
coming off' the horse, and laughing, '^ must be seen 
elsewhere. Those who have the curiosity will follow,'* 
He passed out by the door, the horse following him. 
We were all led through a passage to the other end 
of the building, where there was a broad flight of 
steps leading to the servants' rooms. 

The count pointed to the steps, clapped the horse 
on the head, and said, ^^ Go, Nereckta." Nereckta 
obeyed at once, climbed about fifteen . steps, turned 
on the landing, and came down again, carefully pick- 
ing his way. 

'^ Are you satisfied, my friend," said the count, 
turning to the Frenchman, ^^ or must I appeal to the 
judges r 

" There is no occasion ; I am satisfied. It is won- 
derftd ! I have lost. Take the papers." And he 
pulled out a bundle of papers and handed them to 
the count. 

No sooner had the count received them than he 
tore them up into shreds and scattered them in the 
lobby. Then, taking from his pocket a sealed packet, 
he handed it to the Frenchman, saying : 

" Here is a new contract on more just and 
equitable terms. Do you take it, or must I destroy 
it also?" 

" Certainly, count, I will take it ; and I say you 
are generous — very kind." 

" That is finished, then," said Pomerin. ^' Here, 
John" (he spoke now in English). " Where are 
you?" 



COUNT POMERIN'S HORSE-TAMING. 147 

" All right, count/' said a voice from the crowd 
of lookers-on, in the genuine London cabby tone; 
and a smartly-dressed groom, in racing trim, stepped 
forward. He was, as to size, a boy of ten, but when 
you looked into his face you could read five-and- 
thirty. A neater, more trimly-made little fellow I 
never saw. He approached and patted the horse, 
who seemed to welcome him as a dear friend. 

" Now, John, just show them what he can do in 
the other way," said the count. " We have seen the 
lamb, now we will see the lion. Only once over and 
back, John." 

" All right, count." 

We followed to the lawn in front of the house, 
which was lighted up by pine torches, and found for 
what purpose the hurdles and various other structures 
had been put up in the lawn. The little groom (who 
was master of the count's stud of best horses) put a 
racing saddle and bridle on Nereckta, and sprang on 
his back. Then commenced a scene of galloping and 
leaping, the horse flitting round the park like a swift 
bird. This ended the performance, and when we 
returned to the house to finish the evening the ladies 
had retired. 

It appeared that Defour had obtained a renewal 
of his lease or contract, on ridiculously low terms, 
from the count's German steward, who very likely 
pocketed a nice thing by the transaction. Saunderson 
opened the count's eyes to this, as well as many other 
tricks of the steward. He endeavoured to get the 
Frenchman to give up his lease, but in vain. Defour, 



148 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

civilly obdurate^ refused — ^until one day the count 
found him and some of his men cruelly lashing and 
training a stubborn young black horse. He had 
been trying to tame this horse for some time, and was 
only making the animal worse. The count told him 
so, and said it was his want of skill, not the fault of 
the horse, that caused the failure. Now the French- 
man's weak point was an overweening opinion of his 
own skill in horse-flesh. The count, intentionally or 
not, touched this point so hard, that a bet was made, 
the end of which we have seen. The count knew the 
horse, and admired him ; and, in conjunction with his 
Enghsh groom, he had soon conquered the temper 
and gained the aflfections of the animal, which was 
then found to be peculiarly tractable and gentle. 
Training commenced ; many mock dinner-parties had 
been held, and the horse gradually taught the various 
movements we had seen. The result was, two hun- 
dred roubles to the groom, the horse became the pro- 
perty of the count, and the Frenchman got a new 
lease on more equitable terms. I saw another exhi- 
bition of the same nature in a gentleman's house near 
St. Petersburg, but it was somewhat less successful. 
There is nothing that a young Russian noble enjoys 
more than an affair of this kind, when horses are, 
as they commonly are, his peculiar and passionate 
delight. 



CHAPTER XI. 

HOUSEKEEPING IN THE INTEEIOK. 

AiiTHOUGH Count Pomerin desired to entertain me 
for an indefinite time as his guest, the proposed 
length of my stay in his neighbourhood made it 
desirable that I and my family should rather esta- 
blish ourselves as his neighbours in a house of our 
own. A sufficient dwelling-place we found close to 
the count's residence, and looking into a large sloping 
court-yard, at the bottom of which was the cotton- 
mill, with other factory buildings. Pins's house and 
the steward's office flanked this yard, which was large 
enough for the exercising of some thousand soldiers. 
On the left of the factory, in the hollow, was an old 
primitive corn-mill, driven by a couple of water- 
wheels. More to the left lay the lake, and the road 
passing between the end of the lake and the corn- 
mill ran northward, to join at the distance of thirty 
or forty miles the main highway. 

My house was of brick, and originally built as a 
dwelling for the steward. It was of two stories, the 
Tinder one being used as a general store or " econom" 
for the estate — a sort of " tommy-shop." No other 



150 KUSSIAN LIFE. 

store or shop was within many miles, and of this one 
the steward had entire control, buying, selling, and 
charging as he chose ; an arrangement any thing but 
profitable to the peasantry. A gateway led from the 
road to the court, and a broad flight of steps, half in- 
doors and half out-of-doors, enabled us to reach my 
dormitory. The house was well situated for com- 
manding a view of much that went on about the 
factory. An additional recommendation to me was 
the fact that the stanavog, or district inspector and 
magistrate, lived in a wooden house next mine, and 
that from my gable windows I could see into his 
court-yard. It was there that he administered jus- 
tice with "the stick," and there also was a rude 
prison or lock-up. As I wanted to see life in the 
interior, had heard so much of the " stick" by which 
Eussia is said to be governed, and had seen so little 
of it — ^perhaps for want of opportunity — ^I felt rather 
glad that this shortcoming in my experience was 
about to be supplied. 

Although my goods and chattels had been sent 
off from Moscow before we lefk that city, they did 
not arrive till six weeks after us, our six rooms being 
in the mean time partially furnished from the count's 
own house. The things came, however^ and for a 
wonder came unbroken, which is saying a good deal 
when it is imderstood that amongst them there was a 
set of Wedgwood's best dinner ware, besides two 
sets of imperial china and porcelain, and a lot of 
crystal. The count had ordered his steward to sup- 
ply us with every thing we might want in horses, 



HOUSEKEEPING IN THE INTERIOR. 151 

provisions, and necessaries from the stables and 
^* econom." The horses I accepted, the provisions I 
preferred to pay for; but I soon found that the 
count's orders were one thing and the steward's 
fulfilment of them was another. For instance, when 
horses and conveyances were wanted, this gentleman 
picked us the worst cattle and the oldest carriages he 
had. For provisions he charged three hundred per 
cent more than it cost us to buy them from the 
peasants. The peasants he sent us as servants were 
the worst-behaved and dirtiest he could discover. 
Clearly enough we were looked upon by this German 
as interlopers, spies, and what not, for which reason 
he took every means that he dared safely employ to 
annoy us. Some things, beyond our friend's control, 
were very cheap. As matter of curiosity, to illus- 
trate the drawback to the poor of want of market for 
the articles of their own raising, here are some com- 
parisons of price : — ^A turkey cost in the interior ten- 
pence, in the capital four-and-sixpence ; a goose, in 
the interior ninepence, in the capital three shillings ; 
a fowl, interior, fourpence-hal^enny, capital, fourteen- 
pence ; beef, three-halfpence a pound in the interior, 
fourpence- halfpenny in the capital. Of eggs, the 
price in the capital was five times our price here of 
a penny-three-farthings for ten. Butter was in the 
country threepence-halfpenny, in the capital nine- 
pence a pound ; and a sucking-pig that in the inte- 
rior cost sevenpence, in the capital cost three shillings 
and sevenpence. The peasants, rearing all these and 
many other articles on their allotments, and having 



152 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

no near market for them^ were glad to get any thing 
in the shape of money. Wool, flax, feathers, they 
carried to the fairs, many miles distant, or sold to the 
natives who travel round in search of such articles. 
These men will then take them to the large fairs, 
and sell them to merchants, who again re-sell them 
to other and larger dealers, by whom the goods reach 
Moscow, Odessa, or St. Petersburg, after passing 
through four hands. 

A main dependence of a household is upon the 
servants. An English mistress wants them " quiet, 
honest, clean, tidy, and respectful," but finds them of 
another sort in Kussia. As a domestic servant the 
Russian serf, particularly the woman, is noisy, impu- 
dent, dirty, slatternly, thievish. One good English 
servant is worth a whole regiment of them. If you 
choose, madam, to live up to the eyes in filth — ^if you 
submit to be plundered to your stay-laces — if you 
P^-y your maids ten times their rightful wages in 
presents — if you never look into the kitchen, and 
give the whole establishment entire command of the 
cellar and larder, you may live to be tolerated in 
your own house. 

We began our housekeeping with four, a key- 
keeper (housekeeper), a cook, a room-girl (house- 
maid), and a footman. They came in a body, accom- 
panied by the " starosta," and sent by the steward, 
who had the control of all the human chattels. My 
wife looked at them as she would have looked at 
doubtful meat, for she had much Russian es5)erience 
in such affairs. 



HOUSEKEEPING IN THE INTERIOB, 153 

" Take them away, starosta ; I must hare better 
than these." 

" But surely, madame," said the starosta, ^* you 
will tiy them. If they don't do well, tell me, and 
they shall be whipped ; or beat them yourself— it is 
all the same." 

" No, I will not have these. You have picked 
out the dregs of the village. Get me others directly, 
or must I speak to the count ?" 

" I hear and obey, madame. Get out, you pigs I 
I will bring younger ones, madame. Forgive me, but 
the steward sent these." 

This batch was succeeded by another, and then 
by a third, which last was deemed admissible. When 
they had shaken themselves into their places, we 
found they had all had some experience in the duties 
expected of them. But each stuck with amusing 
firmness to a single duty. When the cook had 
cooked she lay down on a bench in the kitchen, and 
slept out the rest of the day. When the room-girl 
had dusted the chairs and tables, she also squatted 
on the floor in a comer and slept. When the lad had 
waited at table, and carried the dirty dishes to the 
kitchen, he rolled himself up double in a comer of 
the lobby. When any thing was wanted from any 
of them, they had to be roused up with kicks or cold 
water ; shaking was but a vain exercise. The key- 
keeper not having any keys to manage (there was 
not yet a lock in the house except on my wife's 
drawers), slept placidly, and snored the sleep of the 
just all day and all night on one of our sofas, as 



154 RUSSIAN LTFB. 

rather a more dignified place than the floor for a 
key-keeper. Beds they had none, and beds they did 
not want, nor ever had wanted. The breakfast dishes 
were put on the table for tea just as they had been 
taken away dirty the evening before. 

" Cook, why did you not clean the tea-things f 
" Madame, I am cook. I cannot clean dishes." 
" Polygaie, why did you not clean the dishes I" 
" Madame, I am room-girl, and dust." 
" Evan, why did you not do it?" 
" Madame, I am lacquey, and wait." 
Of course the key-keeper was jniles above this. 
So they all went off to their lairs, and we sent for a 
dish-washer. 

At the end of the week the floors wanted washing, 
and a question arose who was to do it. The cook 
cooked, the room-girl dusted, the lacquey waited, the 
scullery-maid washed dishes, and the key-keeper did 
nothing but sleep. My wife was making up her 
mjnd to be her own key-keeper, as she thought the 
sleeping on the sofa might be accomplished by 
herself if necessary, but she could not scrub the 
floors. The others, even on promise of an addition 
to their wages, refused in a body. " Too much 
work, madame. Cannot be done." They all evi- 
dently were working for the " stick," but we did not 
beKeve in the " stick." The upshot was that four 
outsiders were hired to come once a week to wash 
the floors. 

It was the same with washing clothes and getting 
up Unen. A woman was engaged for the one duty, and 



HOUSEKEEPING IN THE INTERIOR. 155 

the other had to be done by my wife, because no one 
could be got who knew what it meant. 

" Evan, why the deuce have my boots not beeii ^ 
cleaned these three days f ' 

" If you please, baron, I am lacquey, not boot^ 
cleaner," said Evan. So he rolled himself up again 
in his corner, and was snoring immediately. 

A boot-cleaner was, of course, hired ; then a man 
to cut and fetch wood, and another to cut it into 
small pieces and keep the fires up. 

Thus had my establishment increased in one week 
to thirteen souls. The wages of these people were 
small, it is true, but higher wages had no charm to 
induce extra exertion. Let the ladies of England 
think much of Betty and Jane ; complain less, use 
them well, speak kindly to them, and one Betty wiU 
do more — and more faithful — work than all my thir- 
teen Eussians, with thirty thirteens to that. So says 
my wife, who remembers faithfulness and friendship 
in brisk English maids. Now all these Russian ser- 
vants must be fed, and that means something ; not 
that their nominal food is much, but that the real 
consumption in the way of theft is beyond calculation. 
Say that the nominal power of a Bussian servant's 
capacity for victual is ten, the real indicated con- 
sumption will be two hundred and fifty. 

At the end of the first week our key- keeper 
rolled oiF the sofa, rubbed her eyes, yawned, and 
then said : 

" More money, madame, to get coffee and tea 
and sugar from the * econom.' " / 



156 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

^ Do you mean to tell me tliat those stores are all 
gone!" 

^ All gone, madame.'' 

^ What on earth have you done with them ? Tell 
me. 

^^ All eaten up, madame, by the baron and the 
children and yourself." 

" What ! twenty-eight pounds of sugar, three 
potmds of tea, and eight pounds of coffee consumed 
in a week by my family?" 

'^ Yes, madame. No one has touched them. 
They cannot last for ever, you see. What's to be 
done?" And she shrugged her shoulders in the 
usual manner. 

" I will tell you what's to be done. You are to 
take yourself off instantly." 

The key-keeper was accordingly bimdled out. 
The next was no better, nor the next; and the 
alternative forced itself on madame, "I must be 
key-keeper myself." 

This did not much mend the matter. The sugar, 
tea, and coffee continued to vanish, nobody could tell 
how, and we continued to spend for a few weeks at 
the rate of three pounds a-week for these three arti- 
cles. To have preserved them untouched, it would 
have been necessary to have placed them in the 
centre of the big room, and station a guard of sol- 
diers (not Eussian soldiers, who are themselves the 
biggest thieves in the world), a file of Napoleon's old 
guard, to watch them night and day. Keys and 
cupboards were got, but these did not much help to 



HOUSEKEEPING IN THE INTERIOR. 157 

abate the evil. The thieving still went on, and my 
wife was at her wits' end. 

" Have you examined their boxes, my dearf 

" No, but it must come to that again. I thought 
when I left those experienced and incorrigible thiev- 
ing Petersburg servants this would not be necessary. 
I did not mind emptying their boxes once a week, 
but these innocent country peasants — ^I cannot ima- 
gine them guilty. However, I must try them. Come 
and protect me, for the first time." 

It was after dinner when we proceeded to the 
kitchen. The whole establishment was fast asleep, 
squatted and rolled up in various comers. The 
kitchen a picture of dirt and confusion. A little 
cold water roused our friends up. 

" Titania, give me your key," said madame. 

" It is lost, madame." 

" Give it me instantly. There it is, hapging at 
your side. K you don't be quick, I shall send for the 
starosta, and have you whipped." 

The key was handed over, and the box opened. 
This innocent peasant girl's box contained a canvas 
bag filled with pieces of lump-sugar, paper parcels of 
tea and coflfee, needles, pins, buttons, hooks-and-eyes, 
pieces of tape, laces, bits of soap, candles half burnt, 
children's toys, sealing-wax, pens, note-paper, and a 
host of other small articles, all of which my wife 
identified as hers, and coolly carried off, leaving me 
sentinel over the others, every one (except Titania, 
who had been found out) vociferating innocence, and 
taking Heaven to witness that hands and boxes were 



i'. 



158 BU8SIAN LEO!. 

entirely clean. Titania was grovelling on the floor at 
my feet, begging pardon and mercy. The detective 
returned and opened at leisure every box in its turn, 
carrying away from each the stolen contents, as she 
had done with the first. Every box was found with 
as much in it, and some boxes had more in them, 
than Titania's. 

When the whole mass of recovered property was 
spread on my large table, it was a wonder to behold. 
I do not relate this as an extraordinary fact. The 
habit of stealing and pilfering is so constant and 
universal, that an honest house-servant in Russia is 
as one grain of wheat in a ton of chaff. They will 
nearly all steal while you are looking at them, and 
swear by the saints they are innocent as lambs. The 
peasant-women go from the interior to the capitals, 
speculating not so much on extra wages, but on 
opportunities of plunder when they get into service. 
At first they are content with small nibbling, but 
some of them can make a clean sweep too. 

An Englishman in a government situation, a 
friend of mine, and as good a fellow as can be, went 
to bed lately, and when he and his wife got up at 
seven o'clock his four rooms were peeled clean to the 
walls, his servants were all gone,, and every thing 
was gone: carpets and curtains, clothes and furs, 
plate, knives and forks, two watches, and money. 
He was left in an empty house, robbed to the value 
of three or four hundred pounds ; and all this was 
done by a female servant or two. No man was con- 
nected with the robbery. The thing is so universal 



DOMESTIC SERVANTS. 159 

that no one either gives or asks for a recommendation 
with servants. You must take your chance, and to 
change servants where all are so much alike is utterly 
useless. My wife at first changed often; I have 
known her have a fresh set every week — ^sometimes 
twice a-week. At last, however, she found it was 
better " to bear the ills we have than fly to others 
that we know not of;" and she adopted the plan of 
frequently examining all the boxes at imexpected 
se^ons, recovering her property, and putting it back 
into its right place without saying a word. She had 
become used to this in the capital, but had expected 
better things from unsophisticated peasants, and was 
much hurt at finding her mistake. 

A Russian master or mistress would have sent 
every soul to be whipped, and we were next door to 
the yard, where each, without ceremony, trial, or 
delay, would have received fifty to one hundred 
lashes on the bare back, women and men alike. But 
an Englishman does not believe in " the stick." 

It is possible to find instances of servants remain- 
ing for years in one place, being pecuharly adapted 
for its work, and managed necessarily with an enor- 
mous amount of forbearance. Even after they have 
been treated for years with the greatest kindness, and 
admitted to intimate familiarity as one of a family, a 
hasty word is spoken, they get an offer of a change 
of place, and off they go in a moment. Your child 
may be dying, your wife helpless — so much the better 
for them. All your years of kindness, forbearance, 
and generosity are gone with a breath, and you are 



160 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

left to feel, wliat man j travellers have had to remark, 
the deficient power of gratitude in the raw Knssian. 
The sentiment is, indeed, almost unknown. And is 
it not easy to account for this? Think of the treat- 
ment the masses are used to receive from those above 
them ; the tyranny of every rank to its inferior step 
by step ; the iniquitous system of forced labour or 
serfdom; — is this not enough to fix on the poor Rus- 
sian's mind the idea that every act of kindness is 
done purely for the advantage of its doer, that there 
is some interested motive in it ? Therefore, though 
they accept kindness greedily, as much as you can 
bestow, they give few genuine thanks. They are not 
yet gratefiil even for the Emancipation Act. Thanks 
may be on the servile lips, the receiver of good may 
kiss your hand, go down on his knees and lick the 
dust off your feet, but not one spark of a true gener- 
ous gratitude is in his heart. 

There is one class, however, which can be fairly 
trusted for honesty in all thiags but bargaining. 
They are the adherents of the " old faith," the 
"starrie verra." I could wish to give a sketch of 
the history of this old sect and its creed ; but having, 
as to its history, no certain sound by which to go, I 
will speak only from my own experience and obser- 
vation. I know that though the sect is proscribed, 
the members of it are devotedly attached to their 
old system, and deem the present orthodox Russian 
Church an awftd departure from the primitive faith 
and practices. They deny the emperor's claim to 
be head of the Church ; they believe to any extent 



THE STARRIE VERBA. 161 

in witches ; fast and do penance ; lacerate and scourge 
themselves in a most determined manner. They 
meet in secret — at night generally — and their nnm- 
bers are greater than is supposed. Some high per- 
sonages^ they say, secretly belong to them, and sub- 
mit to dreadful midnight penance for their sin of out- 
ward subserviency to the modem heresy. People of 
the old faith are distinguished by grim gravity and 
opposition to all dancing or light amusement. Above 
all, they do not directly steal, although I have heard 
it said that, as merchants, some of them are the 
greatest of all rogues. These fanatics remind me 
in some respects of the old rigid Cameronians, who 
thought that the killing of Archbishop Sharp was 
not a murder. I should be sorry to place them on a 
level with these old enthusiasts in many things, but 
the emperor would stand a fair chance of a heavenly 
crown if the starrie verra had its will ; and it hates 
the present religion of the empire as much as ever 
the Cameronians hat^fi prelacy. 

I had not been long in this place when I became 
acquainted with the fact that a community of this 
old faith existed in the neighbourhood. An old 
wooden building like a Druid temple, set in the side 
of a hill among trees and rocks, was pointed out to 
me as their midnight conventicle. This was said to 
be presided over by a woman, a priestess, who never 
left the temple night nor day. Such an arrangement 
was clearly prohibited by law, which does not tolerate 
women-priests ; yet here she was ; and from the per- 
fect immunity which she and her associates seemed to 

M 



162 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

enjoy, I suspected that many of the gentry and people 
of the valley either shared or sympathised with their 
opinions. 

I had seen a roving fanatic in the village collect- 
ing peasants round him, and shouting to them like a 
street-ranter. He never wore any thing on his head 
or feet even in the coldest jfrost, and his other cloth- 
ing was indecently scant. He was often drunk, and 
I have seen him in that state lying helpless on the 
ground. This fanatic was esteemed a prophet, and 
listened to as such. He carried a long pole, and 
danced some holy dance to words of high prophetic 
omen. 

As neither I nor any of my family went to any 
church, old or new faith, we were suspected to be 
something dreadful. I had no images in my house, 
except one brought by the servants and hung up in 
the kitchen. I had refused to allow a band of priests 
to go through some mummery by way of blessing the 
house at my first going in. This was not at all sa- 
tisfiwstory, and strange rumours and doubts of my 
Christianity went about, even to the length of sug- 
gestion that we were a household of Turks or Mo- 
hammedans, the abomination of abominations to a 
Eussian, and more especially a starrie verra. As I 
had no way of publicly exhibiting my faith but by my 
works, I was obliged to let them all talk as they liked. 
The tide, however, was soon to turn, and I was to 
get credit for more sanctity than I deserved. 

After my household goods arrived from Moscow, 
the crockery was cleaned and nicely put away in a 



A COOK OF THE OLD FAITH. 163 

handy place for particular occasions. For common 
service we used the base earthenware of the country. 
What crockery can have to do with the starrie 
verra may be a matter of astonishment, but it has 
much to do with it, as my poor wife found to her 
cost. She loves good Wedgwood, and I had been 
obliged to bring a capital set for twenty-four from 
England to St. Petersburg, never dreaming thai it 
would have to travel yet another fourteen himdred 
miles. I had proposed to sell it, but she answered 
-with decision, " Don't be foolish. It must be packed." 
So packed it was, and here it stood, as I have said, 
ready for use. One day she said to me, " Tell me> 
my dear, what ^ starrie verra' means." 

" Starrie, old ; verra, faith— old faith. Why do 
you ask f 

" Because a woman has come for the cook's place^ 
and she says she is a *starrie verra, who will not 
steal. Shall I take her?" 

"Certainly, by all means; an honest cook is a. 
gold mine." 

The woman came. She was of a staid, stem^ 
even gloomy expression, about thirty-five years old, 
was clean, and had a cowl on her head which hid 
every hair. All the time that she remained with us, 
I had no evidence that she was not entirely bald. 
From this maid's armpits to her heels were two 
straight hnes, so that her waist was quite as myste- 
rious as her hair. Except for the gloomy expression 
on her face her features were good, and her eye — or 
I was much mistaken — showed a kind heart, spite of 



164 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

her habitual grimness. She never smiled, jested, or 
laughed ; but we soon found that she was valuable. 
Her work was always done to the minute, and done 
well. We became rather attached to Anastasia ; and 
while keeping her grim gravity unrelaxed, she evi- 
dently softened to the younger members of the family. 
They, again, took amazingly to the stem old lass. 
Give me a child for finding out character covered up, 
whether in smiles or gloom. The children find it 
out ; ay, and they bring it out. A terrific breaking 
of pots in the kitchen had taken place five minutes 
after Anastasia's first installation. Mugs, jugs, cans, 
brown pots, plates and dishes of various dimensions, 
she smashed into atoms at once, saying, "Unclean I 
unclean I" As this was a very Ukely fact, and the 
things were of little value, she was rather encouraged 
than otherwise in this new work of reformation. "A 
new broom sweeps clean," sdemed true enough of her. 
Every article in the kitchen, iron, wood, and earthen- 
ware, had been horribly defiled, was pooganie (un- 
clean), was smashed and thrown out. She asked 
nobody's leave, nor did she stand on the manner of 
doing it, but did it. A new outfit was obtained from 
the " econom ;" and as her religion suffered her to eat 
with none of us, a complete set of dishes was got for 
her own individual use. No one durst lay a finger 
upon these on any pretence whatever. K touched, 
they were smashed the next moment. Nor would 
she for the world touch food out of any dish or vessel 
which had been used by another. K a dog got into 
the kitchen, and put his nose (as dogs generally do) 



A COOK OF THE OLD FAITH, 165 

into half-a-dozen pots and dishes, whether these were 
her own particular vessels or not, they were smashed. 

The following conversation ensued one evening 
upon hearing one of these dreadful smashing houts 
in the kitchen : 

"What noise is that, my dear?" 

" O, it is Anastasia breaking a few dishes. Never 
mind her." 

"Never mind her ! I wonder you allow that old 
fanatic to go on so ; she will ruin us in pots alone •" 
(And assuming a fierce look), " I shall go and turn 
her out this moment." 

" No you won't. Listen : this woman is a jewel. 
She breaks a few dishes, it is true, but her religion 
seems to demand it. I suppose it also tells her to be 
honest, for she is so. You told me not to examine 
her box, but for all that I have done so many a time. 
She always leaves the key in it. It contained no- 
thing but an old Bible, in the old chiurch characters, 
which I could not read, and a few clothes. Not a 
vestige of my property could I ever find. That is 
not all : the other servants either don't, or cannot 
steal by a hundredth part as much as formerly. Her 
breakage does not amount to a tithe of the old rob- 
beries. Now say shall she be turned out ?" 

" Certainly I prefer the smasher to the thief." 

" Now come to the kitchen, I hear she has gone 
out. I wish to show you something." 

We went to the kitchen, and there my wife 
pointed out to me that all the utensils in which any 
food was left or kept had a cross made of chips laid 



166 KUSSIAN LIFK. 

across the top. Bread was in course of making, and 
tlie sponge was set. On the top of the dough a cross 
was also drawn with a blunt edge. 

"Now," said madam, "aU that is to keep the 
witches out of the food. Yesterday she told me that 
during the previous night the cat had been very un- 
easy, and had gone mewing about for a long time. 
She got out of bed, and drew the edge of a knife 
three times round the cat's head, after which it was 
quiet and went to sleep directly. She had cut the 
throats of the witches which were tormenting the 
cat, and had fastened themselves round her head." 
When we got back to our own room, my wife con- 
tinued : " That is not all : she is absolutely a darling 
of a griffin. She has so established your character 
for sanctity, that in fact you are now supposed to be 
a priest in your own country, and she defends the 
interests and the character of the family on all occa- 
sions. She does all my marketing now with the 
peasants, and that alone halves my expenses." 

" But, my dear, how can she possibly have repre- 
sented me as a priest, the last thing I wish to be 
thought?" 

" Well, I was coming to that. Put up that book 
and listen patiently. I got it all from the Countess 
to-day when I was there ; and when I explained some 
things which puzzled her, she laughed immoderately. 
You know what kind of a character we all got, be- 
cause we did not go to church, nor have images to 
adore, nor cross ourselves. We were thought dogs, 
who worshipped no God at all ; and you confirmed 



A COOK OF THE OLD FAITH. 167 

this impression by saying you worshipped, like the 
Athenians to whom Paul preached, an unknown God. 
I daresay our lives would not have been safe; but 
Anastasia has put it all right. I sent her amongst 
the peasants to buy provisions. They told her that 
we were dogs, and that it was a shame for her, a 
starrie verra, to live with such dreadful people. 
* Ah I' she said, ^ you are a parcel of fools ; you don't 
know them as I do. My master is a great priest in 
his own country. Don't I see him twice every week 
performing the services with robes, and dresses, and 
grand curtains, in the large room ? Don't I see him 
reading and praying out of five large books full of 
saints and pictures every day ? Don't they all sing 
and chant every evening before going to bed ? Did 
ever any of you see them dance like you fools? 
Don't I break as many imclean pots as I like, and 
madame is never angry, but says, That's right, 
Anastasia, keep things clean.' This counter-blast 
has been going on some time, and now the Countess 
says we are looked upon with different feelings ; in 
fact, our cook has established you in the veneration 
and good opinion of the people. Besides, you know 
just dealings with them may have had some effect 
also." 

"But what does it mean? How do I perform 
the services twice a-week?" 

" Have you not, like a captain at the North Pole, 
been setting the children to perform King Alfredy 
and recite pieces, and sing? Have I not got dresses 
made for them? Have you not painted a scene (O, 



168 BUBSIAN LIFE. 

how dreadfully bad !) ; and is not this our amusement 
every Tuesday and Friday I" 

" And the five great books of saints from which I 
read and pray ; can they be the four volumes of the 
Illustrated London News ?* 

"Yes, and the large Illustrated Family Biblem 
She has seen the pictures, and how carefully we 
handle them, not to spoil the grand binding. So 
what with the acting, reciting, singing, reading, and 
family prayers, it is all settled in Anastasia's mind 
that you are a great good man ;' but particularly the 
book of pictures has fixed this conclusion in her 
mind." 

A great sacrifice had yet to be made to the starrie 
verra. Cooking-pots might be made of the coarsest 
earthenware, or porcelain, it mattered not ; if they 
were defiled, either they must go, or the cook would 
go ; that was the fixed alternative. 

We had given a party. Saunderson was there, 
Defour was there. Pins was there, the Count and many 
others were there. Each gentleman had brought his 
favourite four-footed companion and protector. Some 
had two. These dogs were, during supper, lying about 
the room. I thought, in common hospitality, it was 
but right I should feed my friends' dogs, and I pro- 
posed to give them a great feast of broken victuals 
before they were taken from the room. No sooner 
said than done ; plates, dishes, tureens — of our choice 
Wedgwood — were filled with what dogs like, and 
put before our expectant neighbom's. It w^as delight- 
ful to see how the strong fellows wagged their tails, 



i 



A COOK OF THE OLD FATTH. 169 

and lapped their jaws, and crunched the bones, and 
relished the dainty feast ; but in the midst of all, to 
our great grief, the starrie verra opened the door 
and looked in for some orders. She saw the defile- 
ment ; her face assumed a more grim look than I had 
ever seen on it. In a moment I felt that my wife's 
pet crockery was tried and condemned past all re- 
prieve. Dogs had defiled it. Madame looked at me 
with a what-shall-I-do expression; and I replied 
by another look of take-it-easy-and-let-it-go. It 
was a sore struggle, but prudence triumphed over 
crockery. The servant was invaluable. It was not 
she but the crockery that might be replaced. But 
O ! is there a lady in England who does not sympa- 
thise with my poor wife as, immediately after the 
removal of the cloth, she heard the smash of her 
Wedgwood going on in the kitchen ? She sat still, 
and winced hard, and pressed her lips together at 
each smash. Meanwhile, however, I had told her 
grief to our guests, and each crash was provoking 
laughter, in which she at length, catching the infec- 
tion, joined long and heartily. The starrie verra 
remained with us until we left that part of the coun- 
try. Then her grim countenance relaxed, and she 
cried bitterly at parting. She was the only honest 
servant we ever had in Eussia. 



CHAPTER XIL 

THE TRAGEDY OF THE WHITE VILLAGE. 

Before 1863, when the act was to take effect, 
who could know the results of the emancipation of 
thirty millions of serfs? While among the peasants, 
journeying from one part to another, about the time 
of the first edict on the subject, I tried to ascertain 
what value the peasants themselves set on the pro- 
mised boon ; but I could not find my way far into 
the mass of their ignorance and apathy. 

One day I had the following conversation with a 
serf who brought me a message : 

" "Your name is Evan Vasiliovitch ; to whom do 
you belong?" 

" I am the serf of Karmoritch." 

"How many are you?" 

" Two thousand souls are we." 

" You will all soon be free." 

He looked at me from the comers of his eyes, 
and dravfled out, 
. " Yes ; if God and our Father wills." 

"It will be better for you, Evan ; will it not?" 

" God knows, baron. How should I know?" 

" How much obrok do you pay ?" 



THE SSSF'S MDirD. 171 

" Thirty roubles a-year.'* 

" Do you pay it in work or in money ?" 

"I work four days a-week in the sugar-fabric, 
to pay the obrok, passport, and taxes." 

"How much are the passport and taxes?" 

^ About three roubles and a half, besides other 
things." 

" That is thirty-three roubles and a half you have 
to pay ; and for this you have to work four days every 
week in the sugar-mill?" 

'' It is so, baron ; and hard work it is." 

" When you get your freedom, you will not re- 
quire to pay obrok, or to work for it Your time 
will be your own to cultivate your ground. WiU 
that not be better for you?" 

" God give it ; I don't know. But I am tired of 
working." 

"How much land have you?" 

" Three and a half deciatines" (ten acres). 

" Well, that is plenty to keep your family on. If 
you spend all your time on it and pay no obrok, is 
it not plenty?" 

" I don't know, baron ; but I am tired of working 
in the fabric." 

"Now tell me, Evan, what do you intend to do 
when you get your freedom ? Will you remain here 
and work your groimd, or will you seek bread some- 
where else?" 

He turned his eyes first up, then down, then on 
both sides, as if seeking to evade an answer ; gave the 
peculiar peasant's shrug, and slowly muttered, 



172 BUSSIAN MFK, 

"I shall sleep, baron." 

"And after you have slept, Evan?" 

"I shall eat, baron." 

"And after you have eaten, Evan?" 

"I shall sleep again, baron." 

" And when the black bread is gone ; and when 
the pig and poultry are all eaten; and when the 
potatoes, carrots, and cabbages are all eaten; and 
when there is no firewood nor pasture, — ^what will 
you do then, Evan?" 

"Then I will tell you, baron. Now may God 
give you health ; and thank you for the tea-money 
you are going to give me. Give you good-day I" 

I believe this is the case of nearly all the serfs. 
The condition of many of these people at this time 
may be judged from the following account of him- 
self I got with difficulty from a peasant who worked 
in a cotton-mill : 

" I earn four roubles (twelve and sixpence) a 
month. My time is all spent in the mill — ^from five 
o'clock in the morning until eight o'clock at night. 
My wife and two daughters work on the fields be- 
longing to the baron five days every week in sum- 
mer. They get no wages. In winter they do any 
kind of work required of them by the steward. 
My son (who is seventeen years old) works also in 
the mill, and gets two roubles a month. We have 
three deciatines of land. It Is our own; so is the 
house. We can only raise a few potatoes, cabbages, 
and carrots. The women do this work. We keep 
a pig, and we have some ducks. We eat them. 



THE SEKFS. 173 

We get black flour from the econom (the steward's 
tommy-shop) ; this is deducted from our wages. We 
pay no obrok from these wages, nor taxes. Our 
work is counted for this: the steward manages all 
that. Somehow I am always in debt to the steward's 
oflSce. I have worked ten years in the mill, and am 
a good spinner. I don't know what we shall do 
when we get our freedom. We shall not work any 
more, I suppose. I may go begging ; it is an easy 
life. I am now unfit for out-door work ; but my son 
is able : let him cultivate the land. We are three 
thousand souls on this estate. A thousand nearly 
are away, and pay forty roubles obrok each a-year. 
They pay their own passports and taxes besides." 

This is a sorry but true picture. Eleven pounds 
a-year had this man and his family to live on I For 
this sum the father and son gave all their time in 
the mill, and the mother and two daughters five days 
a-week in other work. In a free mill worked on the 
fi-ee principle, the father and son alone would be 
worth, and sure to receive, about sixty pounds, and the 
two daughters thirty ; but then they could be forced 
to pay out of that what their master chose to exact 
for obrok and taxes. Many of the serfs are better 
off, and some are worse. The serfs belonging at one 
time to the crown are now free ; and those possessed 
by the rich old families have paid five roubles obrok, 
and done what they pleased with their ground or 
themselves. Some of them are immensely rich, and 
could purchase their freedom at fabulous sums ; but 
great nobles sometimes choose to retain them, either 



174 BtrSSIAK LIFE. 

as a reserve-fund in case of need, or from a foolish 
vanity in the possession of a serf worth half a milUon 
roubles. Such instances, however, are by no means 
common. 

Intelligence reached us one day that something 
serious had happened among the serfs at a place 
called the White Village, twenty miles away. I started 
off to the place in company with my Scotch friend 
Saunderson, who was then my visitor. The White 
Village was a village of considerable size, and the 
houses seemed to have once been of a more comfort- 
able class than any I had seen in those parts. Now 
it was a most desolate picture of extreme penury and 
woe. Soldiers were in possession of every door; 
Cossacks patrolled the streets and the adjacent roads, 
so that but for my friend's clever assistance we should 
not have been allowed to enter. The steward's house, 
with all his property' and stores, had been burnt 
down, and he himself had been murdered. His 
family (a wife, a son, and two daughters) could no- 
where be found. Some ten peasants were dead, and 
many were wounded. A gang of serfs in irons, or 
bound with ropes, followed by screaming women — 
some with babies in their arms — were leaving the 
place under an escort of Cossacks — ^who were jeer- 
ing the poor wretches and probing Ihem with lances 
— on their way to the government town -prison; 
whence they would pass ultimately to the Siberian 
mines, no doubt. 

This is the story of the outbreak : 

General ObrassojBF died and left his widow two 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE WHITE VILLAGE. 175 

estates. This of the White Village, which had come 
into his possession only a short time before his death, 
was one ; the other was that upon which my friend 
Satmderson served as superintendent. The lady was 
a person of a tender heart, who had been well edu- 
cated, and mixed in the best society. At her hus- 
band's death she left the capital and its pleasures, 
in order to devote herself to the education of her 
daughter ; taking with her a first-rate governess, and 
a little English girl as companion and English tutor. 
The Kttle English girl (by name Lucy Murray) was 
fatherless; her mother was unable to educate her, 
and she was glad to give her companionship to the 
Russian young lady in exchange for good treatment 
and an education in German, French, and music. 

Arrived at the White Village, which she had 
never seen before, the "generalshe" (Mrs. General) 
decided upon living there for a time. While the 
old family-house was being prepared for her recep- 
tion she stayed in a friend's house in the nearest 
town. The former proprietor of the White Village 
had been rich, and easy with his serfs. He had 
possessed several estates of considerable extent lying 
widely separate from this part of the country, where 
lie had never been but once; in fact, he knew 
very little of the White Village, except that it was 
his, and that the steward sent or brought him plenty 
of excuses for non-payment, but little money. It did 
not trouble him much, therefore, when the people on 
the estate passed to the General Obrassoff at cards 
or dice. He merely remarked (Madame Obrassoff 



176 BUSSIAN LIFE. x 

is my authority here) that if the general made no 
more of the pigs than he had made of them, they 
would not be of much use to hiuL The general 
determined, however, to make the estate valiiable. 
It was in the same country as his other property, 
and would form a large addition to his income, if 
well handled. But soon after he had sent off a new 
steward, with the discharge of the old steward in 
his pocket, and with orders to repair the house, buy 
stock, and raise the obrok from ten roubles to thirty, 
he died. Thus madame — ^good, tender-hearted, com- 
passionate Madame Obrassofif — ruled in his stead 
until her child's majority. 

On the morning after she had taken possession, 
and installed herself comfortably in her large wooden 
house, before she had quite got out of bed, the large 
plot of grass which served for a lawn in front was 
filled with a mass of human beings, clad in the most 
filthy rags, waiting to pay their respects to the 
new owner ; the old starost heading the ragamuffins 
with evident pride and pleasure. English rags are 
bad, Scotch are worse, and Irish are much worse ; but 
Eussian rags are beyond all conception. When the 
lady appeared on the lawn among her " souls," she 
was perfectly shocked by their wretched appearance; 
and the starost having marked with cunning satisfac- 
tion her aspect of sympathy, advanced first with a 
"welcome present" — a lean goose — and laid it at 
her feet. He then kissed her feet, and the feet of 
her daughter, and wished that all imaginable bless- 
ings might be poured down on their "high-bom" 



THE TRAGEDY Or THE WHITE VILLAGE. 177 

heads. He then said that the present he had brought 
was not fit to give to a stanavoy's clerk, far less to 
such a high-born generalshe ; but it was all now left 
him to give, he was so poor ! The rest of the ragged 
host advanced and followed suit, no one coming 
empty-handed. Some gave one egg; others a few 
berries or a bit of black bread ; some a jug of kvass 
or an old paralytic hen. This one brought a starved 
rabbit, that one a small paper of salt or a few carrots. 
The speeches delivered on this great occasion by some 
of the elder peasants were siimlar to that of the old 
starost: "High -bom lady, we are your humble 
slaves ; forgive us for having nothing better to offer 
you ; we are poor ; look at us with the golden eye, 
and have pity; God give you health and long life 
to live among us; we are poor, but obedient; we 
will all die for you ; it is God's truth, lady, we are 
poor." Many of them shed tears profusely. The 
kind-hearted woman wept in sympathy, and pitied 
the degraded beings from the bottom of her heart. 
How could she exact thirty roubles a-year from such 
people? How could she put a hard steward over 
them, to grind more out of them? Had this not 
been already carried too far ? 

"Starost," she .said, "hear me. My husband 
gave orders before he died that each man should 
pay thirty roubles obrok. Has the steward told you 
so, and are you willing to pay it?" 

"High-born lady, it is truth. We have been 
told, but God knows we cannot pay it. All we have 
is not worth thirty roubles each. You have beautiful 

N 



178 KUSSIAN LIFE. 

eyes to look with ; see these people. Is it possible 
that we can pay all this large sum ? Ah, lady, have 
compassion and be an angel, and make the obrok ten 
roubles, as it was before." 

" Steward," said the lady, " give me your opinion." 

" My lady, honoured and obeyed, it is my opinion 
that all this is a farce got up to deceive you. Don't 
believe them. They seem poor, but I suspect them 
to be the reverse. I cannot prove it yet, but I soon 
will. FoDow, madame, your illustrious husband's 
design, and I shall pledge myself to find the obrok. 
I have done." 

Here the whole body of the peasants (about, fif- 
teen hundred), at a secret sign fi'om the starost, sur- 
rounded the lady, and fell on their knees howling 
and crying. 

"My children," she said, "I pity you. It is sad 
to look on you, with those rags. I will not ask you 
to pay what you cannot pay ; but I must have some 
obrok, and shall be content with ten roubles each, if 
it is paid without trouble to me. I wish to be kind, 
and to live amongst you happily." 

The starost crossed himself, and so did the multi- 
tude. The starost thanked the lady, and with many 
bendings and bowings vowed that this sum should be 
paid by the people, if he made them sell every thing 
they had. They then parted ; the lady rejoicing in 
having done a deed of mercy ; the starost chuckling 
at the success of his trick. The new steward, finding 
his occupation gone, gave notice to quit, and so an- 
ticipated his dismissal. 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE WHITE VILLAGE. 179 

Next day, while the generalshe was giving or- 
ders in her new house, and the French governess, 
the daughter, and Lucy Murray were at their first 
lessons, the cunning old starost and twenty other 
peasants, clad in good comfortable garments, and 
looking healthy and well-to-do, unearthed some thirty 
or forty very fine young horses of their own breeding 
and rearing, from a secret spot in which they had 
been hidden, and were soon on their way to the large 
fair in the government town, to sell them for from 
one thousand to fifteen hundred roubles ; the greater 
part of which money, after being divided, was des- 
tined for their secret hoards as soon as it could be 
turned into hard cash (paper has no chance against 
bullion among the peasants). The people of this 
village were to a man dealers, breeders, and rearers 
of horses, who attended all the fairs for many hun- 
dred versts round, and only used their own land and 
that of the estate for the pasturage. Instead of being 
poor, they were the richest in the district, and none 
could have paid a higher obrok. But they had never 
paid much under the old proprietor, and they would 
not, if cunning could save their pockets, under the new. 

The lady remained under her delusion for a year. 
When the time came for the obrok to be ^aid in, 
a scene similar to the first, which had been so suc- 
cessful, was again enacted. The winter had been 
severe ; the summer rains had not come ; the rot, or 
something else, had got amongst the pigs and poultry ; 
the crops of every thing were nothing ; they were all 
nearly starving ; they could not pay any of the ten 



180 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

roubles ; her high-bom ladyship might come and see 
for herself; she might take all they had, but the 
obrok in money they could not pay. (Not a word 
was said about horses.) 

Again the trick succeeded. The other estate * 

afforded means of living ; this estate might improve 
with a little patience and kindness; and the kind 
woman not only forgave the whole year's obrok, but 
reduced it to five roubles for the next year. " Only 
remember, starost, this is my last step in that direction. ^i 

If this five roubles each is not paid in good time, and 
if you assemble these people again without the money 
in their hands, I will sell the place and leave you. I 
Tvill not struggle and fight to get my money. I wish 
to be kind to you, but I must live ; and it is a shame ^ 

to you that I have to draw all my means from other 
poor serfs, who are perhaps as poor as you." 

There is nothing more certain than that if you 
give a Eussian serf an inch, he will take an elL The 
next year came, and the five roubles did not. The 
poverty trick was again rehearsed ; but this time her * 

high-bom ladyship dismissed the people with pain 
and anger, advertised the estate for sale, and, as she 
had threatened, sold it. All the horse-dealing " souls" j 

on it, their wives and children, horses, cattle, goods < 

and chattels, became the property of a certain Gospo- i 

din Popoff, who had spent the greater part of his life 
in ofiicial service on a salary of some forty-five or sixty- 
roubles per month, and who had managed to live up 
to three hundred roubles, and to save money enough 
to buy the White Village at twenty thousand roubles. 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE WHITE VILLAGE. 181 

Herr Hausen — the steward whom Madame Obras- 
soff allowed to leave her — ^was appointed by Gospodin 
Popoff; for this steward had kept his eye on the 
estate ever since, knew more by this time of its capa- 
bilities, and felt chagrined at having been outwitted 
and driven away by the cunning old starost. 

His first act indicated what was to be expected 
now. The venerable old starost and twenty of the 
principal peasants were seized on their first repetition 
of the poverty farce, and received a very liberal 
supply of "stick." The stanavog's men kept the 
stick going for half a day, and were well paid to lay 
it on hard ; while Herr Hausen smiled complacently. 
This was the first turning of the tables, and they went 
on running round from bad to worse. Each serf was 
served with a demand for three years' arrears of obrok, 
passport-money and taxes, at a high rate. Failing to 
pay on the instant, the secret studs of horses, and the 
more apparent goods of every kind, were appropriated 
and sold without the least compunction. The pea^ 
sants were not allowed to leave the \dllage, but were 
driven to work on the fields. Having formerly 
attended to nothing but horse-dealing, they were 
now almost destitute of the kind of produce necessary 
to human life. The old and infirm had to chop wood 
for the steward, the children gathered oak-nuts and 
cut grass in the woods, for his cows and pigs ; his 
bams, stables, and storehouses filled as those of the 
peasants emptied. He became corpulent in substance 
as they grew lean and gaunt and hungry. 

A sum equivalent to the purchase-money of the 



182 RTJ8SLAJT LIFE. 

estate had already been realised; but this was not 
thought suiEcient by Herr Hansen and his principal. 
They had not yet found any money ; and money in 
hard cash there must be somewhere. Domiciliary 
visits had been made, the floors of the huts had been 
dug up, and every place the searchers could think of 
had been explored without success. At length, a 
Jew — one of those prowling sharp-featured wiry 
little fellows, who carry trinkets, gaudy-coloured 
prints, handkerchiefs, and money, to exchange for 
com, flax, feathers, and other peasant produce, at 
a profit of eight hundred per cent or so — gave a 
hint to Herr Hansen for a per-centage on the money 
found. Measures were taken accordingly, and one 
day these peasants — already shorn to the bone of 
every thing else — ^were deprived of their nest-egg. 
Where it was found, or how much it was, I did not | 

hear ; but hard bullion to a considerable amount was 
transferred to the iron safe in the strong-room of the | 

steward's house. The peasants were now poorer a 
thousand times than they had ever wished the kind 
generalshe to believe them. 

What follows of the story I had partly from the 
old starost as he lay in his hut dying from a gun- 
shot wound, and partly from Lucy Murray at an after- 
time. 

One evening, four men stood at the end of a hut 
shaking something in a felt hat. One of them pat 
his hand in and drew; he told the result, and the 
operation was repeated. Then the four separated and 
took different paths through the village, saying a few 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE WHITE VILLAGE. 183 

words quietly at every door. It was a cold clear 
ilight, soon after twilight, and the moon had risen 
in an almost cloudless sky. Just as the old starost 
passed the steward's gate, he met little Lucy Murray 
going in. 

" How do you do, starost ? I hope your health is 
good. Good-night. I must run to the house." 

"Stay, maiden with the golden hair and the 
laughing eyes ; tell me who there is now in yonder 
house besides the steward and his." 

" Madame Obrassoff and her daughter sleep there 
to-night. You know we came for the last instalment 
of the purchase-money of the estate." 
"When do you go?" 

" To-morrow morning. We should have gone to- 
night, but it is late to begin a journey, and the horses 
want rest. Why do you ask, starost?" 

"Listen, daughter of the English, and let my 
words go into your heart and remain there. Tell 
the generalshe from her old starost, who loves her 
and hers, though he has often deceived her, that 
she must — do you hear me say must? — ^leave that 
house in less than an hour. God dooms it, and all in 
it, to destruction. Now tell her soon and secretly ; 
but as you value her life and your own, tell it to 
none other but her. Go, and remember my words. 
Good-bye, English child; and may God give you 
happiness !" 

So the starost passed on with the Russian fiery 
cross. 

In about an hour after this, groups of men in 



184 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

noiseless felt boots went their way to the church 
front. Each of these men was armed with only one i 

weapon, but it was a deadly one opposed to any thing 
but fire-arms — ^the tapore, or Kussian short-axe. With 
this the Kussian peasant can hew down trees, cut them, 
into pieces and slabs, build houses, make windows or 
picture-frames, sharpen and mend pens or pencils, kill 
a wolf or a bear, make tables and chairs, cleave his 
enemy's head from the crown to the neck. These 
men met at the church, each with his tapore stuck in 
his belt and resting on his hip. As each group 
approached the church, every individual turned his 
body so as to face the holy emblems, images, and 
saints, the position of which he well knew, and with 
more than ordinary devotion bowed and crossed him- 
self. 

The starost lifted up his voice : " Brothers, many 
words, little deeds. Are you all ready and all 
wiUing?" 

Each man drew from his back the tapore, flou- 
rished it over his head, and answered : " Keady." 

" That is well. We cast lots whether it should 
be to-night, and the answer was, ^Yes;' we cast 
again, and the answer was, ' AlV Follow me, then." 

The body of men moved on, and, but for the slight 
crisping under their felt boots, they moved like noise- 
less phantoms. They were in number about five 
hundred. Half way between the church and the 
steward's gate a carriage drove up; they opened to 
let it pass, and looked in. Madame ObrassoflP, her 
daughter, and Lucy, pale as spectres, and quaking 



THE TRAGEDY OF THE WHITE TILLAGE. 185 

in every limb, sat inside. Every man of the mur- 
derous band uncovered his head and bowed. The old 
starost said, " Go in peace, kind woman and innocent 
girls. Thank God! they have heard my words." 
He little knew that Herr Hansen's two daughters 
and his wife were concealed in the bottom of the 
lumbering vehicle. Lucy had warned not only 
Madame Obrassoff, but the steward and his family. 
His son, a young man of eighteen, had stepped out on 
the instant, mounted a fleet horse, and galloped to the 
nearest town for soldiers. 

Thus was the steward left alone to meet the storm 
he had raised. Most tyrants are cowards, and Herr 
Hansen did not belie the statement. When the 
hatchets began to beat at his doors and windows, 
he became at last convinced (for he had until then 
derided the idea) that he had raised a demon he could 
never lay. He fled for refuge to some wretched 
hiding-place, as if any place in that great house 
could hide him from those who were now seeking 
his blood. His own domestics, all of them serfs to 
the village, joining the assailants, soon hunted him 
down, and dragged him to the door, when he was 
commanded to give up the money he had robbed 
them of. With trembling Umbs and pallid cheeks, 
he obeyed, yielded his keys, and begged on his knees 
for mercy. In the most abject fear and cowardly 
despair he offered them all he possessed, promised 
forgiveness, and that he would reduce the obrok — 
any thing, every thing, for his life. But mercy he 
had never shown, and mercy they did not show him. 



186 BTTSSIAN U^. 

The axes of fifty men glittered in the cold moonlight 
and descended on his head. Then, when he was 
chopped to pieces, began the work of destruction. 
The wines and spirits found in the house added 
drunken madness to the madness of ignorant de- 
spairing vengeance, and morning found the revolted 
serfs dancing wildly round the dying embers of what 
had lately been the steward's house, oflGices, stables, 
and storerooms. No thought of consequences entered 
their benighted heads. They had recovered the lost 
money, and a great deal more ; they had feasted to 
satiety on the rich stores of the steward ; best of all, 
they had killed their enemy as they would kill a wolf. 
But consequences were not slow to come. A cry of 
" Soldiers !" was raised. Surprised, they ran this 
way to be met by a volley of musketry, and they ran 
that way to meet another volley. Dead and wounded 
fell like rotten sheep. The tapores were thrown down, 
the peasants fell upon their knees screaming for 
mercy, and surrendered at discretion. 



CHAPTER Xm. 

WOLF-HUNTING AND TRAPPING. 

After visiting the White Village, I had agreed to 
accompany Saunderson to a place called the Little 
Village, which belonged to the widowed lady who 
had obtained from the White Villagers mercy for being 
mercifril. The management of this estate, including 
a large saw-mill^ corn-mill, and sugar-mill, was mi- 
der the control of the intelligent gentleman whose 
acquaintance I had made at the hunt. The distance 
was about thirty miles, and, although we could have 
gone by a more open and safe route, we decided on 
the forest track, as the nearest, and as affording the 
best chance of sport by the way. During two pre- 
ceding nights the frost had sharpened, until the snow 
was crisp and firm, and formed in any direction 
through the wood a magnificent hard road, without 
a track on it. Instead of shunning the wolves, which 
abounded in the forest, we resolved to court their 
company, and for this purpose carried with us a 
decoy, in the shape of a young pig carefully tied up 
in a strong canvas sack. Rifles, knives, ammuni* 
tion, brandy-flasks, and sandwiches, having been put 
into our well-appointed sleigh, we set off, passed the 
church, crossed the bridge, went up the hill a littla 



188 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

and then striking into the forest, were soon in its 
labyrinths. Our driver was the starost's son, a man 
of about five-and-thirty, who had established himself 
as coachman on all my excursions. Two of Saun- 
derson's wolf-hounds and the Count's Newfoundland 
dog lay at our feet, perfectly alive to the possibilities 
of sport. 

Sleigh-driving is the one grand unapproachable 
unalloyed pleasure to be enjoyed in Eussia. There 
is nothing to compare with a long furious sweep in 
a good Russian sleigh over hard crisp clean snow, 
wrapped in good furs. A great bear-skin is hang- 
ing over the back of the sleigh, and its apron, an- 
other bear-skin, covering your legs, while your feet, 
encased in fur goloshes, rest on a doubled-up black 
Siberian curly sheepskin; on your head is a fur 
cap as tall and straight and round as a very large 
EngKsli hat without the rim, and your hands are 
buried four-inch deep amongst the sable sleeves of 
your coat. As you lie easily back, thus comforted, 
under a clear frosty bright sky, the horses, in grace- 
ful silver-mounted harness, toss their heads, the bells 
at their necks tinkle merrily. The driver in high 
wolf-skin cap and sheepskin coat, over which he 
has drawn a handsome blue caftan trinuued below 
the arms with silver-plated round buttons as large as 
little eggs, and with a large parti-coloured sash bound 
round his waist, is a fellow all excitement, of one mind 
with the three wild horses, who tear on at whirling 
speed, dashing the crisp snow in showers from their 
hoofs, sometimes for a moment or two half blinding 



SLEIGH-DRIVING. 189 

you with the finest, cleanest, and whitest powder in 
the world. With these appliances, and as you see 
and feel them all, you know the luxury of sleigh- 
driving. I am not speaking of a drive through the 
streets of St. Petersburg, but a drive of thirty or forty 
miles over untrodden virgin snow through the forest, 
when the trees are clothed in a dense fantastic foli- 
age of hoar-frost festooned with millions of stalactites, 
and when the pure bracing air as you rush through 
it sends the blood tingUng through your veins. 

Before we had quite left all evidences of traffic, 
we heard the sound of men shouting and laughing at 
some distance. Determined to see what was going 
on, we left the sleigh, and taking our rifles, made to- 
wards the noise* Sounds travel far in a wood through 
clear cold air, and we had further to go than we 
expected before we found several men, who in felling 
trees had unearthed a bear. There he stood, on his 
hind-legs, in front of what had been his hibernating 
place — a large hole imder an oak which had been just 
pulled down. He stood with his back against the 
trunk, and his fore-feet beating the air, and the men 
were amusing themselves with his antics. As he 
seemed fo want something to hug, they stepped up 
close to him, and put a lump of wood covered with 
mat between his arms. He closed them with a growl, 
and gave it a hug, and tore the mat to pieces. I was 
astonished — only for a moment — ^to see the men so 
close to him, teasing him without fear for themselves. 
There was no cause for astonishment ; the bear had 
not yet come to his senses. He was quite blind, 



190 BUSSXAN LIFE. 

thiiiy and gaunt^ his hide hanging on him like a loose 
garment, and his ftir like that of a mangy dog. In 
the beginning of winter he had prepared his hole, 
and crept into it. There he had lain on one side, 
sucking one paw. There he had turned on his other 
side, and was fast exhausting the other paw, when 
his dwelling was broken open by an evil chance, and 
he was forced to get up and collect his benumbed 
and dormant faculties, among which sight seemed 
slow to return. He had a dismal and repulsive 
aspect, as he stood or advanced on his hind-legs a 
little way from his support, and retreated to it growl- 
ing and angry. To prevent the men firom torturing 
the poor creature to death, we put a bullet into the 
right place, and left the men and the bear together. 
The bullet saved him from a more cruel death: 
which is our only excuse for having shot that poor 
blind sleepy bewildered Bruin. 

Again whirling over the snow, through the wood, 
the stern and cold magnificence of the scene passed 
all powers of description. It was evident from the 
division of trees that we were following some known 
track, though it was sometimes so narrow and cir- 
cuitous that we were often in danger of collisions 
with the trunks of old oaks and their branches. Now 
and then we emerged from the trees into a wide open 
of perhaps one or two hundred acres, with here and 
there a magnificent oak, covered with hoary foliage, 
towering in solitary grandeur. In summer these 
opens have the appearance of parks artificially laid 
out, surrounded by dark forest on all sides. The 



woLF-HmrrmG. 191 

driver was never at a loss. "I know these trees, 
baron. There is no danger with such angels of 
horses. Noo ! noo ! Step out, my dears. We shall 
soon get among the wolves. I think I see their 
marks." 

"Shall we try the pig as a decoy?" I said to 
Saunderson. 

"By all means, let us have a shot at something 
that is not bUnd and helpless. I cannot get the old 
bear oflF my conscience, poor wretch." 

The pig was dragged from under the seat, where 
he had lain very quiet, and, by dint of pinching his 
tail, was made to perform a solo of pig music with 
variations, which resoimded for miles through the 
stillness of the forest. For some time we coujd dis- 
cern no wolves, but at length we caught sight of two, 
skulking among the underwood, in a parallel line 
with our path, but at a respectful distance. Al- 
though we kept up the decoy music, they were shy 
of approaching within shot. One end of a long white 
cotton rope was then attached to the mouth of the 
pig^s bag, the other end to the back of the sleigh, 
and as we slowly turned a bend in the track the bag 
was dropped behind. We slackened pace, and, as 
the rope ran out, the pig became of course stationary. 
When the rope was all run out,- we stopped and got 
out of the sleigh to watch the result, taking our sta- 
tion about two hundred yards from the pig, behind a 
tree, with our eyes on the place where we had last 
seen the two wolves. The pig, meantime, finding 
himself in a new position, put new zeal into his music. 



192 BUS8IAN UFIS. 

The wolves left tHe cover with springs and jumps, 
and soon approached the poor pig, who was in no 
greater danger than ourselves. As they were on the 
point of springing on the bag — ^in fact, one of them 
had made the jump — a sign caused the driver to 
move on with his horses, thus pulling the prey out of 
their reach, and setting them both wondering what 
this could mean. The wonder did not last long, for 
the wolves distinctly had smelt pork, and meant to 
dine on it. 

They again approached the bag, and the bag 
again receded, while the most vociferous and re- 
sounding shrieks proceeded from the pig inside. The 
wolves made a fiirious run, and again the driver gave 
reins to the horses till he had pulled the pig nearly 
on a line with the place where Saunderson and I 
were standing, the wolves following with tongues out 
and glaring eyes. Both rifles went off at the same 
moment, and, strange to say, only one wolf rolled 
over. We had both fired into one. The other wolf 
sprang for cover, but was stopped and brought to 
bay by the three dogs, who very soon made an end 
of him, receiving in the struggle a few sharp bites 
from his ugly teeth. 

This method of decoying the wolves is common in 
that part of the country, and it is not unattended 
with danger, for in case of a large pack being at- 
tracted nothing but fleet horses can save the hunters. 
We had this advantage, besides rifles and dogs, and 
were prepared for as many wolves as might show 
themselves. 



W0LF-HU2ffTING. 193 

"Do you hear that?" said Saunderson, as an 
unmistakable howling yelp was borne to us on the 
wind. " We have only killed the advanced guard ; 
the pack is in foil cry. Be quick ; fetch in the pig, 
and let us drag these two behind the sleigh." 

We tied the rope round the neck of each wolf, 
and dragged both as fast as possible, secured the dogs 
in the sleigh, and jumped in ourselves. Then off we 
sped again, wolves by this time visible on each side of 
us and behind us. We soon found we could sustain 
a pace of three feet to their two, and this cleared us 
of risk. All we had to do was to prevent their getting 
ahead of us. 

Havinoj reloaded our empty barrels and lighted 
our cigars, we kept watch on either side for a good 
shot ; but it is not easy to get a good shot in a run- 
ning sleigh, unless the object be stationary, large, and 
near. 

" Mattvic, go slower, keep your eye on the horses, 
and pull up very gradually when I cry ^ stop.' " 

" I hear." 

A detachment behind were now coming up in fine 
style. 

" Slower, Mattvic." 

« I hear." 

We got on our knees on the seat of the sledge, 
with our faces to the approaching wolves, about fif- 
teen in number; we rested our rifles on the back, 
and as the wolves came up Saunderson said : 

" Now, take one on the left, and I'll take one on 
the right, and as soon as you see their teeth, fire." 

o 



\ 





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^n^nxjes «» „-« of the 



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^^-,c .«. «^ r^ ^— ^^^ ,^^^^ ^ ^ Wtcs. 



WOLF-TRAPPING. 195 

he is swift and sure ; I have hunted wolves before 
with him." 

After a slight hesitation about the man's safety, 
which he thought in no peril of any sort, his plan 
was adopted. The little horse was got out and given 
to Mattvic ; Saunderson mounted the dickey, and on 
we went ahead. Our man, screaming like a pig, rode 
back to invite the wolves to follow him into Timofia's 
trap. Around Timofia's house was a strong high 
palisade ; through this there was only one entrance, 
by a door opening inward and hung by a pulley and 
heavy balance-weight ; so when a wolf pushed himself 
through this door, it closed, and shut, him into the 
space between the house and palisade. This space 
was again divided off by strong cross-partitions round 
the premises, m each of which was fixed a sliding 
panel or a drop-panel, that could be pulled up or let 
down from within the house. By these means the 
inmates could separate the wolves, and kill them with 
dogs, guns, or hatchets, at their leisure. I had heard 
of one man trapping in this manner as many as fifty 
wolves in a winter, besides other game, the skins of 
which were worth to him at least one himdred and 
fifty roubles. 

As we approached the hut we foimd it of larger 
dimensions than we had expected, and the palisade 
seemed to take in a larger circumference than one 
hut required. We shouted, but no one answered ; all 
was as still and quiet as if the place were miinhabited. 
On our entering the door through the palisade it 
closed with a bang, and we found om'selves in a small 



196 BX7SSIAN LIFE. 

enclosure with a gateway opposite leacfing to the back 
premises, but it was made fast. After thundering at 
it for a minute or two a small door in the gateway 
opened, and there emerged cautiously the figure of a 
man rubbing his eyes and staring through his hair. 
He reminded me of the blind bear. His hair, like a 
great mass of tangled tow, was matted over his head 
and face ; he wore a coarse gray ragged overcoat over 
a gray cotton or sacking shirt and trousers, and long 
felt boots completed his costume. He made many 
excuses, and asked pardon many times for keeping us 
waiting, but seemed to be in no hurry to admit us 
until we told him that a pack of wolves might be 
expected, and that our horses and conveyances must 
be put in a place of safety. The information acted 
on him Kke a galvanic shock, and he w^ off into the 
house with a spring, through a side-door inside the 
gateway. We followed, stooping all the time, and 
were in the house. It was a man-kennel, twenty or 
thirty feet square, a great stove in the centre, dogs 
about a score lying on the floor, and men snoring on 
the top of the pack. The heat was suffocating, the 
stench was poisonous. Timofia soon roused the 
sleepers, pulling them off their perch by the legs, 
pouring water over their heads, cuffing the men and 
kicking the dogs. " Wolves ! wolves ! you pigs, and 
you all sleeping I Be quiet, dogs. No barking. 
Evan, take the baron's horses and dogs round by the 
back entrance to the shed. Quick ! Andrea, stand 
by the big gate, and be ready to shut it after Mattvic 
gets through. Put the dogs in the third division, and 



WOLF-TRAPPING. 197 

get out the guns! Ah, thank God and these barons . 
for bringing us the wolves I" 

We had no intention of being cooped up in the 
hut while the fray went on, and therefore took our 
station beside the man at the gateway, which now 
stood wide open for the admission of Mattvic and bis 
little horse. In a short time all was quiet, and every 
necessary preparation made. Then came the howling 
of wolves and the screaming as of a pig, the gallop 
of a horse over the hard crisp snow, the rush of 
many small feet. The outer door in the palisade was 
dashed open, and Mattvic, followed in half a minute 
by the whole pack, rushed in. The half-minute was 
just sufficient to enable Mattvic to vanish through 
the outer door into the trap. Then, as the last pres- 
sure on the door was removed, it closed with a loud 
sharp sound, and some five-and-twenty wolves were 
snared in a space not larger than twelve feet by 
twenty. We did not at first close the inner gateway, 
but, levelling our pieces at the mass of wolves now 
huddling themselves up in a comer, poured in two 
volleys in rapid succession, then closed the gate, and 
reloaded for another charge. The change from the 
air of ferocious savage daring which the wolves had 
displayed in pursuit of a single horseman, to abject 
terror when they found themselves caught in the nar- 
row trap, was instantaneous. They were like sheep 
in a pen, crushing up in a corner, riding on the top 
of one another, lying down on their bellies, crouching 
and shivering with fear. It is not necessary to de- 
scribe the scene of mere slaughter. Two staves were 



198 SUSSUN LIFE. 

chopped out of the gateway, that we might fire 
through. The drop-panels were opened, and two or 
three were admitted at a time to the next division ; 
there dogs were let in on them through the adjoining 
trap, or they were killed by men with great bars of 
wood or axes ; and at length, when only six or seven 
remained, three of the men went in amongst them, 
and with perfect safety despatched them. They say 
that a worm will turn on the heel that treads on it, 
but wolves caught in a trap like this, fix)m which 
there is no escape, have less courage than a worm. 
They crouch, shiver, and die, as I saw, without one 
effort at self-defence or one snap of retaliation. 

Timofia's hut was not only a wolf-trap, but a 
farm-house too : it had a large shed attached, in 
which a few cows roamed loose during the day, and 
at night were put into a byre or stable. Timofia 
did not clean out this byre once a day, like a good 
modem farmer; he only spread a little straw over 
the dung every morning, and allowed it to accumu- 
late until the month of June, when the cowhouse was 
emptied every year. After this " mucking of Timo- 
fia's byre," you had to descend a few feet if you 
desired to enter it, but before the " mucking^' at the 
end of the year's accumulations you had to ascend a 
few feet. In the one case you looked down on the 
cows, in the other you looked up at the cows. In 
fine, this was Timofia's manure-depot. It was the 
same with his stables. He told me that the horses 
accumulated so much that he had to slope a path 
through, by which they might get in at the doors and 



A SMALL FARMER. 199 

climb up the slope. In the shed were lying two 
implements which attracted my attention ; the first 
was composed of birch-trees cut down through the 
centre, with the branches chopped off within a foot 
of the trees. Half a dozen of these timbers, about 
seven feet long, were tied together with twigs of 
trees, the flat side up and the prongs of the branches 
down. Put two rough poles for shafts into this con- 
trivance, and the Russian peasant's harrow is com- 
plete; price, nothing. Timofia told me that it did 
very well for his light sandy land, and that if he 
found it rather light sometimes he put a heavy stone 
on it. The other instrument was a plough, having 
two tumed-up prongs like Dutch skates, ten inches 
apart, set in a rough wooden firame ; betwixt them a 
projecting movable scoop for turning over the ground. 
This scoop had to be reversed every time Timofia 
turned his h(»:ses. He said this was a very dear 
implement, for iron had to be used in its construc- 
tion. It cost even as much as two roubles, or about 
six shillings. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

TWO RUSSIAN VILLAGES. 

With the Little Village to which I thus travelled 
through the wood, I will contrast another that I know, 
the Black Village, which shows the ordinary state of 
things below the surface-polish of the capital. 

The Little village was unlike any Russian 
country village I had ever seen. Madame Obrassoff, 
either wisely or by good luck, had placed the whole 
management in the hands of a man of the right 
stamp ; not one of the engineering comets who pass 
over the Russian scientific horizon, dazzling the native 
vision with schemes promising fabulous per-centage ; 
not an avaricious and tyrannical Niemitz ; not a crafty 
pilfering Russ ; but a plain practical man, who could 
understand that his own and his employer's interests 
were best consulted by the material improvement of 
the people under his control. He had been reared on 
a small farm in Ayrshire, and knew all the practical 
shifts and expedients, necessary in dealing with poor 
people and poor land ; he possessed that indomitable 
energy and perseverance which has made many of 
the once heatheiy hills and boggy plains of Scotland 
the most fruitful farming land in the world. Cathe- 



THE LITTLE VILLAGE. 201 

rine, Paul, Alexander, Nicholas, have all employed 
Scotchmen in their navies, armies, and manufactories; 
and these men and their descendants are to be found 
naturalised and prosperous in many parts of Bussia. 

On the estate of the Little village I found a beet- 
root sugar-miU, a large saw-mill, corn-mills, a vodki 
distillery, excellent stables, cow-houses, dairy, store- 
rooms, conservatory, garden, hothouses, all kept in 
the utmost order. The people, who looked clean and 
cheerful, had been cleared of the sheepish, sullen, 
cringing air of serfdom, and they looked me in the 
face. In addition to his farming operations, this good 
manager had established a small foundry and me- 
chanics' shoj:), where both iron and brass goods were 
cast and manufactured. In the mechanics' shop I 
saw about thirty men and boys busy at work, with 
files, hammers, and chisels of English manufacture. 
There were a blacksmith's shop with five forges, a 
joiner's shop, a painter's shop, and a large depart- 
ment for the making of carts, sledges, and all kinds 
of wheels. It may be worth notice, that the rims 
of Russian wheels are made in one piece, and not in 
sections, as in England. Birch-trees of the proper 
size are cut down and trimmed to the length and 
thickness required, are boiled for from four-and- 
twenty to forty hours in a large caldron of water, 
and are then bent, fastened, and laid up for a year or 
two to season. Naves and spokes are afterwards put 
in by a rude contrivance, and the one joint is made 
very secure with iron plates and bolts. A wheel 
made in this way, and shod with half or three-quarter 



202 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

inch iron, will last an immense time on the high road. 
On the soft unmacadamised roads in the interior no 
iron is necessary. The bearings of these wheels are 
so broad, that it is almost impossible to overturn the 
carts and carriages set on them. Thousands of such 
wheels were made in the Little village, and sent every 
year to the various markets. Besides these, I saw 
ploughs, harrows, and portable thrashing-machines^ 
in course of manufacture. While I was looking over 
.the estate, several persons from considerable distances . , 
arrived with articles for repair, and orders for new 
goods. 

The wooden one-storied huts of the people were 
clean, well-built, well-thatched, and had glass win- 
dows. Separate places were provided for cows, horses, 
pigs, and poultry ; adjoining each hut was a strip of 
land, composing the garden and farm of its occupant; 
a post with a printed board at the top, facing the 
main road, set forth the name of the possessor of each 
allotment. Although the snow on the ground made 
it impossible to see the state of cultivation, it was evi- 
dent from the abundance in the little bams and yards, 
and fix)m the general appearance of the peasants, that 
their old slovenly, lazy habits were giving place to 
industry and self-respect. On inquiry, I found that 
on this estate serfdom had been abolished for some 
years, and that the work was all done by free Russian 
labourers. The Lady Obrassoff had freed her serfe, 
and by a judicious system of encouragement and 
assistance was gradually making men of them. 

" It is true," said the steward, "we pay more £ar 



EDUCATION IN FBEE LABOUR. 203 

labour now, and we have to give them pasture-land 
and wood at a mere nominal price. But we get more 
work for our money, and by and by the small farms 
let out will become more valuable, and pay higher 
rent, although madame's income from her land has 
been for a time reduced considerably. The profits of 
her works too are already so much increased, that, 
on the whole, we thrive under the new system. This 
will not be the case with many other proprietors who 
have not taken care to conciliate the people, and find 
good work for the surplus population. At first I was 
much put to it for workers in the mills and shops. 
Many of the people having heard of high wages in 
Moscow and St. Petersburg, rushed there ; but most 
of them have since returned, bringing report home 
that in the great towns work is scarce and living 
high, and that, on the whole, they find themselves 
better ofi^ in the Little village. I expect that as soon 
as the serfs are free to go where they choose, great 
bodies of them will rush to the capital and large 
towns, expecting high wages. This wiU glut the 
labour-market in places ab^ady fuUy stocked, and 
they will return to their native homes. For a time 
they may cause great loss and annoyance to those 
who possess land and works in the interior, but a few 
years wiU remedy the evil." 

Li the winter of 1862 many serfs, who had been 
spontaneously fireed by their barons, rushed to Mos- 
cow. When I was in Moscow last, the city swarmed 
with masses of starving peasantry, seeking work, and 
finding none ; on a late country journey, I saw thou- 



204 EUSSIAN LIFE. 

sands crawling back to their villages, and beg^g 
their way. 

Visiting madame at the great house, I found an 
English governess at home with her there, in the 
heart of Eussia. It is a general practice among the 
better classes in Eussia to educate their children, 
especially girls, at home. Placed under the charge 
of a chief governess, a young Eussian lady is often 
attended by a retinue of tutors, comprising a Ger- 
man, a Frenchman, an Italian, and an EngUshman, 
besides Eussian dancing, drawing, and music masters. 
I knew a case in which a young lady's education cost 
her guardians two pounds a-day, for teachers' and 
governesses' fees alone. All must be natives of the 
coimtry whose language they profess to teach, and 
must come, or profess to come, from their capital. 
Scotch or Irish men or women are tabooed either as 
governesses, teachers, or companions. 

Having complimented madame on the improving 
condition of her estate, 

" Ah, yes," she said ; " my steward has done won- 
ders outside, and we have not been idle inside. All 
things are changed, and, O, how much better it is! 
Formerly, when the people were my own, I was 
obliged to have seventeen or eighteen sen^ants of one 
kind and another in the house, to wait on us four 
ladies, and then we were not half served. Now, we 
have only five hired servants, all free, besides the 
gardener and coachman ; and from these we get 
better attendance. We are quieter, there is less 
waste and stealing, and the cost is not one-half. The 



SERVILITT. 205 

effort was at first hard work ; for sometimes when we 
were teaching them to be free — ^poor things — ^they 
did not know what it meant. But we persevered, 
and now I am very happy. It will be a long time, 
however, before I get the idea out of my old head 
that these independent creatures are my children. 
Lucy" (the English governess) "and Sanya have 
started a school for the peasants' children. At first 
they bribed the little things, and even the parents, 
before they could get them to come ; now they have 
too many. The young ladies also visit the sick and 
the aged ; and Lucy has lately taken to remonstrating 
with the few lazy and drunken fellows in the village. 
About a year ago she gave me a little book of Scrip- 
ture tales, of which I am extremely fond ; it is in 
English. Well, we three Russians soon translated 
it into Russ, intending to get it printed for circulation 
among the peasants and their children. But, you see, 
at my last confession I had to tell the priest what 
I and my girls had done. He saw the manuscript, 
and prohibited the pubUcation." 

" And will you not publish it ?" 

" O no ; it would be wrong. I dare not. It is as 
much as I can do to get the school carried on. But 
come here into this corner ; I want to tell you about 
Lucy. That young lady has a strong determined 
character, and must have been trained in good prin- 
ciples. During the first three months she was in my 
family she effected a great change in it. You know 
how abjectly the peasants behave when they ask a 
favour or receive one ?" 



206 RXTSSIAH LITE. 

"Yes; they cross themselves^ bow down their 
heads level with their heels, kiss yotir feet, grovel on 
the very gronnd, and kiss the earth you walk on." 

" So it is, and we are so mnch accustomed to it 
that this servility seems natural. They will do it to 
our children when occasion requires, crawling and 
grovelling before them. Poor young things, what 
can they imagine but that the abject souls are dogs 
and pigs compared with themselves? I have seen 
one little fellow, not disposed to grant a request to 
a great sprawling man, join to his denial a Idck in 
the face. Well! one day, after Lucy had been a 
short time here, two male peasants came in and began 
their prostrations before the young girls ; they had a 
petition to make to me, and wished for their inter- 
cession. Sanya, although she is a good girl, took it 
quite in order, as part of her natural birthright. Not 
so Lucy ; I was in the next room, and heard her say, 
^ Get up, men, and stand on your feet like human 
beings ; I will not hear a word while you lie on the 
floor ;' and looking through the curtains, I saw her 
with her fingers in both ears. Sanya said, *Lucy 
dear, let them go on; they are only moushicks.' 
' They are men,' said Lucy ; and turning to them, 
she said : ' Now Usten, and remember what I tell you ; 
never go on your knees and kiss the ground to me 
again. I won't have it ; you must kneel to God only. 
Stand up and make your request in a respectftd 
manner, then I will hear you, and help you if I can.' 
The moushicks did not understand her ; they stared 
in blank astonishment ; they heard her words of 



THS BLACK VILLAGE. 207 

rebuke^ but supposed that they had not been abject 
enough; and again cast themselves down at fiill 
length. Lucy ran into my arms and burst into tears. 
My Sanya could not for a long time understand it, 
but I hope I did ; and the end is, that this abomin- 
able practice has been peremptorily abolished in my 
family." 

Now let me describe my visit to the Black village, 
or, as the Russians call it, " Chemoi Deravonie." 

We (for I was not alone) arrived about ten o'clock, 
in fine time and humour for breakfast, but saw very 
few evidences of life as we passed down the road^ 
between the straggling, poverty-stricken, shapeless 
hovels of mud and wood. On approaching the ba- 
ronial residence and farm-offices, we found a small 
crowd of some twenty peasant men and women 
assembled at one of the barn-doors, where a middle- 
aged lady was gesticulating with direful energy to 
the assembled peasants. The lady was dressed in a 
fiir wrapper, had tied her head up in a comfortable 
woollen shawl, had put her hands in good wajrm fur 
gloves, and wore on her feet a pair of long velvet 
boots lined with rabbit-skin. The peasants seemed 
as if they had just risen from consimiing fever. They 
were lean, and wan, and haggard, with their hair 
matted, their poor clothing tattered, and their faces 
fi&ed in sullen discontent. The lady, busy among 
her " souls," did not appear to notice our approach. 
She was in too great a passion to attend to any thing 
but the outpouring of her wrath. 

" Dogs ! sons and daughters of dogs I Is this the 



208 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

service you pay your baron ? Pigs and swine ! Is 
tliis a time to come to your woi;k ? Rats and vermin ! 
You should have been here at four o'clock, and now 
it is ten. Defilement of mothers ! I will have every 
one of you whipped. And you, starost, who ought to 
be an example, are the worst of the whole pack of 
thieves. You came here at this hour vrith seven- 
teen souls, when you ought to have had forty here at 
four o'clock to thrash and put that rye away. Devils 
you all are ! If my brother were well, he would 
punish you like sons and daughters of dogs, as you 
are!" 

The old starost, quite unconcerned imder all this 
abuse, merely shrugged his shoulders until they 
reached his ears, and held out his two hands from 
his sides with each finger as far separate from its 
neighbour as possible. If any one will put himself 
in this posture, and stare fixedly before him until his 
eyes are glassy, he vrill have achieved the universal 
deprecatory careless shrug of Russia. 

" What is to be done, baroness !" he asked. " I 
have been fighting the pigs all the morning to get 
them to come, but, the deuce take it, they say they 
are all unwell, and cannot work. See ! These are 
all I could get, and I had to pull them off their beds 
to bring them here, and, deuce take me, they are not 
worth bringing ! But what's to be done, baroness ? 
It's God's doing." 

" Go into the barn and work, you whelps," said 
my lady. " Starost, drive them in, you old fool. Be 
quick, pig !" And here she gave the old fellow a 



FORCED LABOUR. $09 

side blow with her gloved hand which made him 
stagger back. But, recovering himself, he pretended 
to make furious assaidt on the poor invalids, cuffing, 
kicking, and pushing them to the door of the bam, 
through which they huddled and disappeared. 

"Now then, you old fool," said the lady, "go and 
bring the others." 

" And who will watch these, baroness?" 

"Iwill. Be off, thief!" 

" ril try, baroness. But they won't come." 

" Begone, devil, and obey my orders !" Again 
she essayed to strike the man, but he started off in 
quick time to the village. 

The language used towards these poor people did 
not astonish me. It is the usual style towards serfs. 
But it is not often that a lady is the speaker. I had 
been told of this baroness that she was a Tartar, and 
a Tartar she assuredly was. Observing us as the 
old starost left, she came hurriedly over to us., " Ah, 
bless me, is it you, my dears? Forgive me, you 
young ladies, I did not see you sooner. You are 
welcome, my darlings. How is your mother ? Sanya, 
who is this you bring with you?" (I am introduced, 
and touch the Tartar's glove.) " You see what awful 
work we have with these serfs, sir ? They think that 
since their freedom has been so much talked of, they 
are not to work any more. They are perfectly un- 
manageable. My brother's illness has forced me to 
take them in hand, and I'll let thejn know I am not 
to be played with. Now go to the house, dears, and 
take off your things. I will be with you as soon as I 

P 



210 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

see these peasants at work." And off she went into 
the bam. 

The house was large and dilapidated. When we 
drove into the front yard we found all silent and 
empty. No one came to take charge of our horses, or 
usher us in. Our coachman could not leave his 
horses, one of them being rather restive; so, afi;er 
hallooing for some time, I was obHged to enter un- 
announced. Just inside the door, and coiled up in a 
comer like a huge boa-constrictor, lay what I sus- 
pected was the porter, sound asleep. I gave him 
a shake, but this had no effect. I then kicked his 
legs, but he only groaned. Seeing a jug of water on 
a little table in the passage, I poured it on him. He 
started up half aws^ke and made a fierce butt at me 
with his head. Fortunately he missed me, and came 
down on the floor head first. This had only the 
effect of so far rousing him that, when he looked up 
through his long tangled hair, and saw a baron 
standing over him and inquiring for some one to take 
the horses in hand, he jumped up and dived in at« 
a side-door, bawUng, " Gregory ! Visitors !" Fol- 
lowing close at his heels, I found him tearing at the 
beard of another fellow, who was sleeping on a wooden 
bench. Gregory being awakened and informed of 
what was wanted, dived into a passage, shouting, 
" Evan ! Visitors !" Finding that I had not yet got 
at the right man, I again followed, and, crossing a 
back court, entered an outhouse filled with straw. 
Here I found Gregory pulling Evan by the legs out 
of his comfortable bed of straw. As soon as he be- 



THE KA8TEB AT HOME. 211 

came sensible that visitors were at the door with 
horses, Evan seized a long pole, with an iron hook 
on the end of it, plunged it among the straw, and, 
after various failures, ultimately succeeded in fishing 
out by their gray ragged coats his two stable assistants. 
Thus reinforced, he leisurely proceeded to the fix)nt 
aiid took possession of our cattle. The battering-ram 
was ready by this time to act his part of lacquey, and 
conducted us into the house. Several female heads 
popped out at various doors as we passed on, indi- 
cating a numerous if not a select retinue ; and our 
conductor presently opening a door at the end of a 
passage, shouted, " Visitors !" and left us on the open 
threshold. Advancing a few steps, we were in the 
presence of the lord and lady of the " souls," the pigs 
and dogs, vermin and devils. 

The master of the house was an invalid. On one 
side he was nearly powerless, and he had partly lost 
his speech from palsy. His other side, however, was 
still serviceable, and with his sound arm he was 
• flourishing a crutch at a red-shirted peasant who 
stood within reach : nor did it end in a flourish, for 
the crutch came down upon the moushick's back as I 
entered. I wondered the fellow did not run, but, 
looking down, I found that he was tied to the great 
arm-chair in which his paralytic lord was cushioned. 
The man's oiEfence was, that in exercising the razor on 
his master^s face he had made a deep gash. That he 
might be safely within reach of punishment the poor 
fellow was always tied to the chair while he dressed 
his master. 



/ 



212 KUSSIAK LIFE. 

On a sofa lay a lady of portentous dimensions^ 
enveloped in a loose robe by no means earefiiUy 
arranged. Her face was hidden by a dense mass 
of very long hair, and in her arms she held a cat of 
Eussian breed of wondrous size. On her knees on 
the floor was a young woman, who had in one hand a 
large comb, while the other grasped the locks of her 
lady, and she combed and searched and scratched, 
and picked away the particles of scurf which are apt 
to collect on all heads and all hair. Cleaner skins, 
cleaner heads, and cleaner hair, do not exist any 
where than among Eussians of this class, for the 
process through which madame was going is a daily 
process, in which she and all the Eussian ladies take 
delight. As the baron was still making wild efforts 
to castigate the unfortunate barber, and as his lady 
seemed unconscious of our presence, I turned to my 
companions for counsel. But the young birds were 
flown. I was alone in that august presence. Think- 
ing discretion the best part of valour, I precipitately 
followed, and soon found ihy companions, by the* 
sound of their laughter, in another room. There we 
waited nearly half an hour, during which time I 
received the following items of information regarding 
our baron, which, as he is one of a large class, shall 
be repeated. 

He had been an official in a hospital department 
or something of that kind, at Cronstadt or St. Peters- 
burg, for many years. It was his duty to buy and 
dispense the stores and necessaries. His salary was 
below two pounds a-week, and this seemed to suiEce 



AN UPHOLDER OF SERFDOM. 213 

for payment of the rent of a good house, and enable 
him to keep a good table and entertain good com- 
pany. It had given his daughter an expensive edu- 
cation, and a dowry of more than two thousand 
pounds on her marriage-day. It had educated his 
son, a young man now nearly ready to enter the 
army as an officer, and had kept him in pocket- 
money. It had bought the Black village, and made 
its paralytic owner a baron. Finally, it had kept his 
widowed sister, the Tartar, for twelve years on the 
estate as factotum in the absence of the baron him- 
self. But age and inefficiency will make themselves 
manifest even in government places, and the baron 
had now retired to enjoy nobility on his estate among 
the himdred and seventy souls out of whom he had 
always tried to get the utmost amount of work and 
obrok, and from whom he received with daily curses 
the least possible amount of service. 

" Ah, this horrid emancipation proposal !" said his 
sister to me, after she came in and ordered coffee, 
" It is a most shocking act of injustice on the part of 
the emperor. His father was a gentleman, and would 

never have done such a wicked thing. He is a 

Well ! We shall all be ruined. My brother paid 
twenty thousand roubles for this estate and the souls 
on it, and by what right does the emperor take them 
from us without sufficient compensation? We are 
already feeling the bitter effects of it. Not one of 
these moushicks will work for us if he can help it. 
Even last summer a great part of our rye crop was 
suffered to rot on the fields because I could not get 



/ 



214 RUSSIAN LITE. 

them to cut it down in time. Think of ten sonls out 
of seventy coming to the reaping-field, and these ten 
cutting only twenty-five sheaves a-day each instead 
of one hundred, which they can easily cut if they 
choose r* 

Here a servant entered the room carrying coffee- 
cups, followed by another with bread, and a third 
with the coffee-pot. Madame looked and cried : 
' " Where is the cream, you fool?" 
" There is no cream, baroness." 
" No cream !" screamed madame, " and six cows 
in the stable T' 

Off she ran to make sure. One of the cows had 
got to the cream and lapped it all up. 
" Are you boiling the eggs ?" . 
" Baroness, there are no eggs." 
" No eggs, and a houseful of poultry T' 
" The nests have been found empty." 
" O, Heaven help us ! The thieving villains, 
they will drive me mad ! Quick, you fool of a girl, 
and bring the butter that was made yesterday." 

" Baroness, there is no butter. The young 
baron's dogs and the pigs got into the cellar and 
ate it all up." 

" Liar !" roared the Tartar lady, and cuffed the 
girl out of the room ; the girl screaming as she fled, 
"It is God's truth!" 

" Give such pigs liberty !" said the lady, catching 
her breath. " We have two-and-twenty servants in 
this house, and yet you see how we are served. We 
dare not punish them now as we used to, and they 



TWO RUSSIAN VILLAGES. 215 

don't care for my cuffing. Last July the young 
baron, my nephew, was here on a visit, and for some 
fault he lashed a peasant with his whip, and cut him 
over the eye with the handle. What do you think 
the wretch did ? He complained to the" — ^I did not 
catch Ijie name, but it was one of the ^ icks' — " and 
there has been no end of trouble ever since about it. 
Ah ! We used to get good work out of the moushicks 
once. They paid forty — some of the clever ones fifty 
and sixty — troubles obrok when they were out at 
work, and those at home were obedient and willing 
to slave for us five days every week. But now we 
can neither get obrok from those who are away nor 
work from those who remain. Heaven knows how it 
is all to end ! but I think the world is turning upside 
down. The mud is coming to the top. We shall 
all soon be slaves to our own serfs." 

" But, my dear madame," I said, " why do you 
not adopt Madame Obrassoff's plan? Give them 
their freedom at once, a few deciatines of land, and 
time to pay?" 

" And who is to work our land ?" 
" You must work it by hired labourers." 
" And where are we to get them, and how pay 
them?" 

" That you must provide for. The surplus of 
these peasants, if fairly treated, will work for you 
after a time." 

" Not one of them. You are a foreigner, and 
don't understand these people. They are all revel- 
ling in the anticipation of a life of idleness and high 



216 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

wages. They are already dividing and picking out 
the best land for their share. As for paying for it, 
or working for us, nonsense ! A moushick is never 
satisfied. Give him land, and he will ask for pasture. 
Give him pasture, and he will ask for wood. What 
he don't get he will steal. No : our land must be 
cultivated by machinery and engines ; and where the 
money is to come from / can't tell. Those who can 
buy engines and wait twenty years for a return of 
capital may hold on. As for us, we are ruined, and 
must sell what remains to us for what it will bring, 
if a customer can be found. That, Mr. Englishman, 
is the condition to which we are coming, if the 
barons don't soon put a stop to this emancipation 
foUy." 

A deciatine of land measures nearly three acres^ 
This quantity has been for many years selling in. 
Bussia from three to ten roubles, according to qua- 
lity. The serfs do not in law belong to the barons 
personally, but the land does ; and as the serfs were, 
by imperial edict, long ago made fixtures on the land, 
so, by a curious fiction, whoever possessed the land 
possessed the serfs or souls on it. Although not 
slaves by name, they were really as much slaves as 
any African negroes are the property of any Ame- 
rican planters. Now the emancipation edict severs 
that connection totally. A serf is no longer a fixture 
on his master's land. He is no longer a serf, but 
a free man ; he can go where he likes. The land 
is the baron's, but these now free people must live 
on it or by it. The edict, therefore, enjoins that 



EMANCIPATION. 217 

a certain portion of it — five or six deciatines — shall 
be sold to each male peasant, and for this he must 
pay the baron fifteen roubles for each deciatine. The 
general price of land in the market being (as I am 
informed) not one-half of this sum, the price seems 
a fair one, involving compensation : so on this head 
the barons would seem to have little cause to com- 
plain. But as the peasants are poor, it is decreed 
that they are to have nine years to pay in, at a stipu- 
lated sum per annum. Or if the baron be willing — 
and, indeed, whether he be wiUing or no— -the serfs 
in a village may borrow money from the state, by 
becoming security for each other, and pledging their 
land, to pay the baron off at once. Thus they can 
become immediately and wholly independent, with 
the state for their only creditor, while the baron 
obtains the wherewith to farm his own remaining 
land. But such arrangements not being thought 
sufficient to meet the present need of the great mass 
of poor barons, the state has further devoted a large 
sum to be expended m loans for a long time, at low 
interest, on the security of the land, to these poor 
baronial proprietors. Such, with some other arrange- 
ments of less moment, are the terms of the famous 
emancipation edict now at last in force. 



CHAPTER XV. 

OOTTON-MELLS. 

Evert Russian peasant, male and female, wears cotton 
clothes. The men wear printed shirts and trousers, 
and the women are dressed &om head to foot in 
printed cotton also. When it is remembered that 
Russia contains something like thirty-three millions <rf 
serfs, besides other classes amounting to twenty mil- 
lions, all using this article more or less, one can esti- 
mate the demand for cotton goods. But a calculation 
is not to be made £rom data afforded by firee and 
more prosperous countries. The peasantry are poor, 
the cotton prints are dear. Hence there is not a 
tithe of the right amount of consumption. Still the 
cotton trade in Russia is a large trade, and it is 
supplied chiefly by native labour in miUs — containing 
machinery made in Oldham and Manchester, and 
superintended by Englishmen from the same and 
neighbouring towns. 

There may be five or six millions of spindles 
at work spinning this cotton. Together with the 
weaving and printing of the same, that forms, indeed, 
a large item, perhaps the largest, among the manu- 



COTTON-MILLS. 219 

factoring processes of Russia, and employs a capital 
of thirty millions sterling. The largest mills are in 
the neighbourhood of St. Petersburg, one of these 
having some hundred and twenty thousand spindles, 
and a few others are of seventy thousand and sixty 
thousand ; but the great bulk of the trade is in the 
Moscow district, and scattered about the land in that 
direction. The number of spindles there may not be 
so great in any individual mill as in some of the large 
Petersburg establishments; but the mills are more 
niunerous, some of them nearly as large, and all of 
them are of respectable dimensions, even according to 
an English estimate. 

The chief causes producing this large manu- 
facturing trade are, of course, the great demand 
and a high protective tariff, which excludes the cot- 
tons of England from the Kussian market. England 
and Englishmen have derived the chief benefit from 
it notwithstanding. The mills are all filled, as I have 
said, with EngKsh-made machinery; a good deal of 
English capital is invested in tly^m, and they are 
almost universally managed by English skilled work- 
men at high wages. 

It is a notorious fact, that although cotton-spinning 
has been in operation in Bussia for upwards of fifty 
years, and constantly on the increase, the people ne- 
cessarily becoming practically acquainted with all its 
details, still they cannot dispense with English superin- 
tendence. Wherever native superintendence has been 
tried it has failed. And it will always be so, not- 
withstanding the admitted ability of the Russians as 



220 BUSSIAliT LIFE. 

workmen, until a moral and intellectual training as 
freemen gives them confidence in their own powers, 
secured to them to induce exertion and competition in 
skill with their opponents of more favoured lands. 
But, account for it as we may, it is a disgrace to all 
concerned that no works requiring the least practical 
care, and the commonest skill in superintendence, 
can yet be carried on successftdly without the help of 
highly-paid foreigners. What should we say of our- 
selves in England if a stranger could point to all the 
cotton-mills in Lancashire, all the flax-mills of Leeds, 
Dundee, and Ireland, and all the iron and engineering 
shops of Glasgow, London, aad Liverpool, and say 
these were all managed and superintended by foreign 
skill ; that the English employed in them were mere 
labourers and imskilled workmen imder the dictation 
of strangers who could scarcely speak the language of 
the country ? If to this were added the knowledge 
that the people of England had to pay two or three 
prices for the cotton goods, because of a high duty 
and other fiscal restrictions preventing imports at 
half the price, and that all tliis only served to make a 
few rich men richer, while the poor people who wore 
the cotton had to pay the entire cost of all the foreign 
cotton wool, foreign machinery, foreign agents, and 
foreign skill, without themselves deriving any sort of 
material or moral benefit, England c^uld not long 
tolerate so great a blunder. This, however, is the 
state of things in Kussia. Several great fortunes 
have been made by machine-makers and capitalists, 
and very nice pickings have been obtained by agents 



COTTON-MILLS. 221 

and superintendents, many of whom went to Eussia 
poor and left it rich. But that it has benefited the 
Bussian people, or in any way whatever added to 
their comfort or improvement, I do not believe. The 
poor baron has received more obrok from his serfs 
employed at these places, because they got better 
wages and paid him accordingly ; and this has enabled 
him to live in ease and frivolity without working his 
lands. The free people, and the serfs under easy and 
rich masters, have had more money to drink ; they 
have forgotten their patriarchal simplicity and virtues, 
if they ever had any, and have learnt all the low vices 
and drunken habits engendered wherever masses of 
both sexes of ignorant and debased people mix to- 
gether — as is the case in mills and factories in Kussia 
— ^without law, religion, or morality to guide them. 

In the interior of the comitry a considerable 
number of these " fabrics," as they are called, are the 
grossest sinks of immorality, tyranny, and wicked- 
ness. But there are a few both in Moscow and 
Petersburg under management, so far as interior 
arrangements are concerned, that fully equals that 
of the best - regulated establishments in England. 
In St. Petersburg particularly, there are the Koling- 
kin Bridge Works, that might challenge competition 
with any mill in existence. 

The father of Russian cotton and flax-spinning 
and other manufactures was General Wilson. This 
gentleman is mentioned by Dr. Clarke in his travels 
in Russia as a prominent character, and as one who 
had even then effected great things, and he occupied 



222 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

aa exalted position at the time of the doctoi^s visit. 
The writer of these notes knew General Wilson for 
many years^ and enjoyed his hospitality, advice, and 
friendship on many occasions. A few lines he thinks 
due to one of the worthiest helpers in good work ever 
possessed by the Russian Czars, especially since the 
main facts can be given as they came straight from 
himself. 

General Wilson left Scotland in the ninth year 
of his age, after having gone through a course of 
study at the High School of Edinburgh, to which 
city his parents belonged. He was the son of an 
ingenious blacksmith, where also his grandfather had 
lived as the "King's smith," at the old Mint in the 
Canongate. His parents went to Eussia during the 
reign of the Empress Catherine, who, whatever her 
faults in other respects, never failed to encourage 
foreigners of merit who would settle in her domi- 
nions. In Eussia the young Wilson grew and ex- 
hibited talents of no ordinary kind, which soon at- 
tracted the notice of General Gascoigne, who had 
some time before been brought from the Carron Iron- 
Works to instruct the Eussians in the art of cast- 
ing cannon. Appointed interpreter and secretary to 
this general, Wilson passed rapidly through various 
grades>and ranks, until he became his assistant in the 
Imperial Establishment of Engineering at Colpino. 
When Gascoigne died, he succeeded him in the im- 
perial direction of those immense works, from which 
a great portion of the armament of the Eussian navy 
has been supplied. He also became, under Marie 



GENERAL WILSOK. 223 

Feodorovna (the Emperor Paul's wife), the origin- 
ator and superintendent of the Foundling Hospital, 
and of the large flax and cotton manufactory at 
Alexandroffsky, each the first institution of its kind 
in Russia. Here, amidst inconceivable difficulties, 
and in the face of prejudice and opposition before 
which most men would have quailed, did this per- 
severing Scotchman lay the foundation of that manu- 
facturing enterprise by which Eussia is either to 
gain or lose. He has enjoyed the esteem and re- 
spect of the successive sovereigns whom he has served, 
and from each of whom he has received abimdant 
and tangible proofs of confidence in the highest of 
those ranks and orders which the law of Kussia 
affords to a foreigner. After having been in the 
imperial service for nearly eighty years, and in su- 
preme command for sixty-eight, he is now, at the age 
of ninety, laid on the shel^ and lives in retirement 
on an ample pension from the present emperor. 

Not only did General Wilson originate and carry 
out the imperial manufactories, which at the outset 
were designed for models, but he was the main- 
spring of many private industrial enterprises which 
have since grown to huge dimensions. He was the 
first man among four who started the monster 
Kolingkin Cotton- Works, and is at the present time 
chairman of their board of directors. Another, and 
now a large establishment, owes its existence chiefly 
to the name and influence of General Wilson — 
namely, that belonging to Messrs. Steiglitz and 
Craig. The most admirable feature in General 



224 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

Wilson's whole career has been his incorruptibility 
in the midst of the notorious dishonesty of Russian 
functionaries* He has been pointed out as the man 
who never took and never offered a bribe; and though 
rich, is not enormously so, as he no doubt might have 
been had he acted differently. Without wife or 
children, he has devoted much of his later years to 
his books, his Ubrary being one of the best in Kussia. 
He is now nearly blind, but his appetite for informa- 
tion is still as strong as ever, and he pays a young 
man of good education to read to him every day. 

A friend supplies me with notes of his own ex- 
perience to the following effect : I was in 18 — chief 

engineer at the large cotton-works at C ^ a day's 

journey from a chief city in Bussia. The managing 
partner on the spot employed two assistants (English), 
carder and spinner, also a sub-director under himself. 
The sub-director was a man of some education and 
considerable general knowledge, and had at one time 
possessed a null of his own; but from some cause had 
been imfortunate, and was now obliged to serve a 
man in every respect his inferior. The chief man 
was ignorant, low-bred, tyrannical, and exacting ; as 
bad a specimen nearly as his country could furnish ; 
but he was master over this work, employed from 
eight hundred to one thousand hands, and being in 
the interior — ^irresponsible" and unchecked by any 
kind of popular observation — he gave free play to his 
unbridled temper and his greed. 

The mill went night and day — "sootkie'* — the 
workpeople were hired principally from the steward, 



THE STICK. 225 

some were paid wages, and found themselves, others 
were paid nothing, but were fed, the chief paying the 
steward a stipulated sum per soul per annum — from 
thirty shillings to not quite five pounds. These peo- 
ple were driven to work in gangs or shifts, by the 
overseer and his men over hundreds and over tens ; 
and the scenes of cruelty and inhumanity which 
constantly occun'ed were exceedingly excruciating 
to my feelings. My windows faced the mill-yard, 
and my study-window looked into the whipping- 
court of the stanavog's house. Few days passed but 
some of the poor creatures were led there to receive 
punishment. If the chief was ignorant and low-bred, 
he was a splendid slave-driver and detective. He 
was in the habit of bouncing into the mill at all un- 
likely hours of night or day, and then woe to the 
skulkers, or any one he imagined to be in a fault ; 
he could swear eloquently in Euss or English, and 
his English assistants sometimes received a volley of 
abuse. He durst not carry a " cat" — ^that is against 
rule in Russia — ^the thrashing must be done legally 
and officially ; but he seldom left the works without 
carrying a list of names : this list, accompanied by. a 
note to his friend the " stan," securing the ovmers of 
the names a certain portion of the "stick." I have 
from my observatory seen married women, pregnant 
women, girls, boys, and men gray-haired, tied down 
on a board in that court, their clothes indecently torn 
up, and the rods applied by a man on each side, for 
faults of the most trifling character. I have remon- 
strated with him ; but was told, "No stick, no work." 

Q 



226 BUSBIAN EEFK. 

Certainly this man ftdly believed and acted on that 
Biissian saying. 

One day I met the starosta leading, four women 
through the yard. 

" Tell me, Evan Evanovitch, what are you going, 
to do with these." 

He handed me a paper, and I read — ^' Give these 
four (here followed the names)' thirty blow* each/' 
signed by the director. 

This did not surprise me : but it may surprise my 
readers that a magistrate would, without any trial or 
investigation — ^without even knowing the faults for 
which these people were sent, execute an order of this 
character. 

" Mother," I said to one of the women, " what have 
you done to deserve this ?" 

" God knows ; the master found me asleep." 

" And what have you done ?" I said to another. 

" I was suckling my little one, and my machine 
was standing." 

" And you ?" to a young woman. 

" O, he knows very well I am not in fault ; but 
I would not go into his small room last night with 
him."' 

" Have you been there before with him ?" 

"O yes, he takes any of us; he is a pig. I 
won't go any more, for I am to be married next 
week." 

" And what is your fault ?" I said to the fourth, an 
old withered hag. 

" It was nothing. I only took a little yam, — 



THE STICK. 227 

only a little to knit wiiii, you know. Whafs; to be 
doner 

For faults gucli as these the poor creatures weaPB 
thrashedj by order of a foreigner, who for a* few? 
roubles to the needy stanavog could, without judge 
or jury, get all the hands in his mill lashed and 
beaten, to suit his caprice or minister to his amusei^ 
men<^ at any time. 

It is not creditable to Englishmen that men sugL 
as this are to be found among them. But there ha^e 
been and are found occasionally men who would 
Bevive in Russia greater evils ten times than any 
ever experienced under the old extinct factory system, 
of their own country. Such men are ignorant^ to- 
begin with. They possess no fixed principles to gO) 
on with ; and when they find themselves among a de- 
graded people, and in nearly an irresponsible position 
of authority, they finish by being heartless tyrants.. 
I have known some of them who could scarcely read 
or write. One of them, who went to Russia fifteen 
years ago to be a director of a cotton-mill, had to 
make his + to documents ; another sent the following 
characteristic order to a friend of mine, which I shall 
copy verbatim : 

"Maecter Broon, — ^Ave you any pices of 8 Karter 
piope, has we wants em to tprisnik to meend testome 
piopes the Mugiks as you cent av al bin out spree 
firou Monday, cend the piopes and cend the plates has 
wur ordered bee th* mon as wur cent on tusdy so no 
more at preasante from your umble cert. 



228 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

Such men, althougli deplorably ignorant in every 
thing else, generally possess a good practical know- 
ledge of their trade, and a powerful amount of self- 
assertion. They have been overlookers, spinners, or 
carders, in some well-regulated work in England, 
under an educated director, and might have remained 
decent worthy men in their own sphere, at wages 
varying from 20«. to 30«. per week. To such people 
appointments in Bussia as head men, at 4Z., 5Z., or 
6L per week, suggest a Dorado — a great spring from 
the pipe and glass of ale in a taproom to cigars and 
brandy in a hotel. From very little men they swell 
into very great men. Their wives commence at thirty 
or forty years of age to learn to be " leddies," as one 
of them told me herself, whom I found one day, 
shortly after her arrival, buying rings, brooches, gold 
watch and chain : " Maister says I mun learn to be a 
leddy noo." And while she is undergoing this expen- 
sive change, " Maister" is learning to be a tyrant 
and perhaps a drunkard. He kicks about " Jacky," 
as he styles the Russians, in grand style — speaks of 
them and to them as to brutes. 

But " Jack/' sometimes makes reprisals. He will 
watch like a cunning wolf on a dark night, and with 
a brickbat or limip of iron fell his tyrant to the earth 
by a blow on the back of his head. This is of rare 
occurrence, but it has happened of late on several 
occasions. 

The same day on which my friend saw the four 
women going to be beaten he met the sub-superin- 
tendent, and mentioned the circumstance. 



'riilr'Name . / Date 



06-«6"^°t5 



C 



Werth^eim Stitdy (228W) 



229 

the tyrannical 
intend to re- 

3 be beaten ?" 
werf ul in Kus- 
core of policy 

foreigner. I 
[ came among 
and the great- 
3 far removed 
i as to be alto- 
alings. They 
think they yet 
^ them better, 

by being cool 
: this country 

. m or insubor- 

emancipation, 
ligence among 
, and perhaps 
secret meetings and talk. Still I do not think them 
malicious; they seem easily to forget and forgive. 
Yet/' he said, after a pause, " God knows, I should 
not wish to be the object of their hate ; if once their 
passions broke loose, they would be demons, not 
men." 

Poor man 1 these were the last words my friend 
ever heard from him-; and that was the last time he 
saw him in life. 




230 BUBSIAK LIFE. 

That very night a part of the mill took fire; 
whether by accident or design no one could or would 
tell. It was observedin time^ and liiesuperintendent^ 
with his two English assistants and a few others^ ex- 
ecfced themselyes to put it out. The director and the 
*^ atan" were carousing in the director's house — b, very 
frequent occurrence ; but when the ^darm was given 
both hurried to the scene of the fire. 

Now, you know that in Bussia the police enjoy the 
peculiar and exclusive privilege of putting out fires, 
and they take the lead in all the operations. Per- 
haps that is the reason why fires here never are put 
out, but are allowed to bum themselves out ; in order 
to &cilitate which process all the doors are unlocked 
0r broken open, all the windows smashed, and the 
TOQ& are, if possible, torn off : all this gives a noble 
draught to the fiame. There is no want of bustle, and 
in the cities generals in uniform hurry about giving 
all kinds of orders ; fellows in gray, with brass helmets, 
knock against one another, and run their engines into 
all manner of ridiculous places. There is plenty of 
daring climbing, and pouring of water; but somdiow 
it all ends, as I have said, in the place burning until 
tiiere is no more to burn. On the present occasion 
the subdirector determined on another method, and 
taking the matter in his own hands, locked the doors 
of the place on fire — ^it was the boiler-house — to pre- 
vent any draught of wind fanning the rising flames, 
and threw water on the burning timbers, while the 
mill-engine was kept going to punip the water. 
They were succeeding very fast in getting the fire 



A KILL ON FIBE. ^21 

under, when the poKce, in .the form of the drunken 
*^ Stan," deioaaded entrance, and the door was as- 
sailed from without. 

" On your life, Andrea, don't open the door yet. 
It will be all out in a few minutes if the door^s 
kept shut." 

And the superintendent, after issuing this order 
to the man stationed at the door, hastened thither 
himself, to prevent, if possible, what he so much 
dreaded. But before he could accomplish his pur- 
pose, the man, at the sound of the dreaded " stan," 
had turned the lock, and his highness was pushing 
himself through the opening door, while the director 
with a lot of " stan-s" officials were pressing on 
behind. The sub saw there was only one way to 
save the mill. He heard his men crying, "For 
heaven's sake keep that door shut! It's blazing up 
again." He was a powerful man, and could have 
thrashed ten "stans" into jelly; so he ^ laid hold of 
the official — words having no effect — hurled him back 
among his satellites, shut and locked the door, and 
stood sentry over it himself, until the fire was com- 
pletely extinguished and the danger past. 

The rest is soon told. On opening the door, he 
was arrested by the " stan," in the name of the law, 
for laying hands on him in the execution of his duty. 
The half-drunken director offered no effectual re^ 
monstrance. My friend had left the village, and did 
not return till next day; and so, in a bitterly cold 
frosty night, this man, who had saved a large mill 
from becoming a heap of ashes, was dragged, his 



232 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

clothes saturated with water, to the filthy lock-up, 
and kept there all night. In the morning he was 
liberated: in the evening he was attacked by in- 
flammation; then came brain-fever, then death in 
due time. Few recover here from diseases. 

If this narrative should chance to be read by the 
man who could have saved the brave fellow that 
night and did not, may the remembrance bum into 
his heart and mend his future ways! This noble 
fellow died in a foreign land, and was buried among 
strangers ; his place at home was empty ; his wife is 
a widow, his children are orphans. But the other 
lives; rich, prosperous, and I suppose happy, enjoy- 
ing the abundant fruits of a life spent as I have tried 
to describe amongst the Eussians. Such men are, 
however, the rare exceptions, not the rule, among 
the English men of business in Eussia. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

ST. PETERSBURG. 

At the time of the Crimean war, and since, I have 
visited the northern Venice — city of useless canals 
and noble rivers, gorgeous stucco palaces and wooden 
booths crawling with tarakans and reeking with dirt, 
of dirty barracks and excellent clean hospitals, of 
narrow mud lanes and broad ill-paved streets, of 
many churches and innumerable bells that minister 
to ceremonial reUgion. But, as English readers know 
enough about St. Petersburg, I shall take the whole 
guide-book for granted. 

An Englishman, worthy of the name, is always in 
a false position in a country like Bussia. He cannot 
grumble, or write to the newspapers; he cannot speak 
at public meetings, for there are none; he cannot 
abuse the Government for doing this, or not doing 
that. He must bear all without hope of remedy 
until the powers give forth the "ukase." At the 
same time I am bound to add that a great many for- 
mer notions about secret police, family spies, sudden 
disappearances, whipping of fine ladies whose tongues 
had been too &ee ; about a social atmosphere of dread 
and suspicion, in which every one doubted his ifriend, 



234 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

and feared to breathe a political wliisper, have not 
been confirmed by my fourteen years' experience. 
I never knew or heard of the sanctity of an English- 
man's home being invaded, or (unless in a case I will 
mention presently) that his political opinions brought 
him into trouble. I never heard of his letters being 
opened or examined, unless by a small post-office thief. 
One letter of mine to a jfriend in Moscow enclosed 
a fifty-rouble note. The keen Russian money-scent 
was too much for my poor raivelope. As I stood at 
the counter of the St. Petersburg post-office, sticking 
on the double-eagle stamp — ^price 10 kopecks — ^I felt 
that I was doing a foolish thing in sending oflF an 
uninsured letter. I looked suspiciously at the seedy 
official, luxuriating in a salary of twenty roubles 
a*month, who had sold me the stamp, and I am sure 
my tell-tale face informed him that I was surrep- 
titiously passing a money-letter through his hands. 
When my friend wrote that he received the empty 
note, I drove to the post-master general, attacked his 
assistant, whom I found coolly cutting his nails, with 
the wrath of an injured man ; and was told by him, 
as he carefully nipped off the comer of the nail of 
the little finger of the left hand, that it served me 
right for attempting to defraud the government of 
the insurance, and that I was liable to prosecution. 

On the other hand, I once sent a sum of money 
to a person in the interior, but this time I insured it, 
and got a receipt. When it reached its destination 
the man had removed; in trying to find him, the 
packet travelled to all the Evanoffskys in Eussia, to 



THE P0Say03PHCE. 236 

Siberia, to Odessa, to Kief, to Karkoff, crossed tlie 
Ural monntains into Asia, and back through all the 
offs and skys in every government of the empire. 
After having made the tour of the Knssian dominions 
it was returned to St. Petersburg at the end of fif teeai 
months. But as my fiiend to whom it was addressed 
was by that time toasting his toes at an English grate, 
I presented my receipt, and received the letter with 
the money enclosed just as I had put it in. The 
large envelope was covered, back and front, with the 
seal of every government-town through which it had 
passed. From this I could calculate pretty nearly 
that my letter had travelled thirty thousand miles 
for fourpence. It may not be generally known in 
England that the Russians had a cheap uniform 
postage before us — five kopecks, or two pence, for 
town letters and letters in one government or county; 
and ten kopecks, or four pence, for any letter all over 
the empire : and if the quality as well as length of 
roads are taken into account, and that all the mails 
are carried on springless carts by horses, and some- 
times dogs, deer, and other quadrupeds, when vehicles 
are impracticable, the cost will appear even less than 
our celebrated penny-post in England. 

I can say too for the Russian post-office officials 
that in civility, activity, and business habits they offer 
a very striking contrast to the officials of any other 
department of the government. 

Foreign newspapers are obtained through the 
post-office only, by paying a year's advance. A list 
of those papers which are "permitted" is circulated 



236 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

early in November ; and those favoured to appear on 
the list are there not because of the nature of their 
politics, but simply because such papers are in de- 
mand by the foreign residents; and should you re- 
quire some one not on the list, a requisition to the 
proper department will bring it at once. But no 
single newspaper from abroad is allowed to reach its 
destination, or, if it do, it is charged so enormously 
that your friend's kindness in sending you a copy, 
which cost him a penny in England, will mulct you 
of six shillings. Up to January 1863, the cost of 
papers was ridiculously high. The Times cost four- 
teen pounds delivered, the Evening Mail about seven 
pounds per annum ; the rest in proportion : but at 
the time mentioned a reduction was made of about 
fifteen per cent. 

Of course every one knows that the government 
takes a parental care and displays a tender solicitude 
as to the ideas set before its children. Those re- 
morseless scissors of the censor, which used during 
the Crimean war to cut the newspapers into waving 
strips of paper-bunting, are now laid aside for the 
" blacking brush ;" and even this is in a great measure 
a thing of fits and starts. During the Polish insur- 
rection, several long articles in the Timesj and even 
an entire debate in Parliament, were remorselessly 
stamped out. 

The stringency of the censorship over native jour- 
nals is much relaxed. " Men of the pen and mighty 
thought" are now breathing more freely ; and many 
new journals have started and are starting into life. 



CENSOBSHIF AND THE PRESS. 237 



/ 



The censorship is now wholly abolished as regards 
newspapers and books above the size of pamphlets of 
a few pages, and the French system of warning is 
adopted. This is not a free press, but a great ad- 
vance on the old plan of censorship. 

Subjects, the bare mention of which would have 
entitled a Russian to police surveillance, or a worse 
fate, a few years ago, are now more freely discussed. 
Parliamentary representation, that bugbear and terror 
of all despots, is becoming a subject of open consider- 
ation. In fact, if the present liberal-minded Emperor 
be not scared from his intentions and designs by 
ignorant, impatient, and designing marplots, great 
changes and reforms are looked for. 

The Athenians were prohibited, on pain of death, 
from making any more gods, because the state found 
there were more gods in Athens than people. If 
Petersburg has been likened to Venice for its canals 
and rivers, it may also be very justly compared to 
Athens for its gods and images, and outward glare of 
superstitious worship. Not content with having noble 
churches in every street, filled with images and saints, 
and open aU the night and day, these holy Bussian 
people are so very pious that they must erect small 
Gothic-looking huts, filled with images, and gods, 
and holy water, and oil ; and the sacred offering-box 
at the comers of streets, and, if the street be long, in 
a niche of some centre wall, and on the ends and 
centres of bridges, in the squares, at the entrances 
and in the centres of the market-places ; so that no 
time for worship may be lost, no opportunity missed, 



238 BirSSIAN UVBL 

whether the people be engaged in anmBement^ hrms- 
nesSy or pleasure. 

Nothing strikes a stranger more than this never- 
oeasing devotion and crossing. Get into an onmihna 
at the end of the Nevsky Prospect, the main street 
of the capital^ and you are startled eveory few minutes 
by your companions doffing hats or caps, piously 
crossing themselves, and sometimes muttering a 
prayer ;. look out of the window at these moments^ 
and you will perceive that you are passing a church, 
or one of the image-huts.^ I have seen men lying 
drunk in a cart, sprawl to Aeir knees on passing 
ome of these places, go reverently through the opera«- 
tion, and then fall back amongst the straw content. 
"Oberesis," or images,, are placed over the doors of 
every house, and one in the comer of every room ; 
having invariably a burning lamp suspended beftire 
it, whether night or day. Even foreigners, let them 
be the most violent opponents of image- or picture- 
worship possible, must have a joss himg up in their 
kitchens at least, otherwise no servant would remain 
in the house an hour. He who has a workshop, or 
" magazine,'' must have a handsome one conspi- 
cuous in or facing the entrance, that prayers may 
be said going in and coming out; and so small an 
influence have these devotional exercises on the 
morals of the people, that the very oil used to illu- 
minate their sacred images or pictures is not safe in 
their hands. I knew at one time an old superin- 
tendent of a manufactory, noted for his extra piety, 
who charged each man under him, to the number of 



IMA^S-WOBSfilP. 239 

five hundred, ten kopecks per month (one kopeck 
bdng suflScient) for oil to burn before the workshop 
idol. His real salary was twenty roubles per month ; 
but he thus managed to save forty-five roubles, or 
about 61, 10*;. a month, by robbing the saint and his 
votaries. Perhaps he had as good a right to a profit 
of nearly nine hundred per cent on his oil, as the 
priests have to a like profit on their candles. 

There is a market-place in St. Petersburg called 
the Apraxin Dvor, which during the incendiary 
fires of 1862 was burned down, but is rebuilt on the 
same spot much as before. Foreigners have very ap- 
propriately named it the " Loose Market ;" for loose 
it is, — with loose characters, loose goods, and loose 
morality. • It may cover fifteen acres of gromid, and 
is in the very centre of the city. The shops, stalls, 
and booths contain every known and every unknown 
article under the sun, secondhand. The merchants 
here are all pure Kussians, from the old woman with 
a few rabbit-skins, to the merchant with a large stock 
of furs: but they are all a set of the most arrant 
•chafferers and traffickers in stolen goods. The old 
glory of Field Lane in London, where one might 
lose his handkerchief or watch at one end, and find.it 
ticketed for sale by the time he got to the other, is 
the glory of this Loose Market every day. Here 
come the household servants to sell their plunder; 
and here also come their masters and mistresses to 
buy it back, if possible. I have bought books with 
my own name, or with the name of a well-known 
English ambassador, legibly inscribed on them, for 



240 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

a tenth of their value. Here are old clo', old iron, 
old steam-engines, old power-looms, old pictures, old 
epaulets, old orders, stars, and ribbons; endless old 
curiosity shops; old birds of every plumage, and 
young bears, dogs, cats, rabbits, poultry, sledges, 
carriages, furniture, kitchen utensils, cutlery, Tartar 
and Circassian caps, belts, swords, pistols, every 
musical instrument produced since Pan made his 
own pipe, and tens of thousands of immentionable 
articles heaped in glorioui confusion in the stalls and 
booths of the bearded rascals, who drive a roaring 
trade in buying from and selling to the poor what 
has been filched fix)m the rich. Yet in this place, 
the very sanctimi of robbery, you will find the joss 
placed in every conspicuous comer of the lines and 
alleys of the shops; and before the josses prayer 
and worship is going on from morning till night with 
greater imction and fervency than in any fashionable 
church in the city. 

One of our great sea-captains gave forth the 
signal on the memorable morning of Trafalgar, 
" England expects that every man this day will do 
his duty." Another sea-captain of later times, to 
whom also his country is justly indebted, gave out in 
the Baltic the word, " Sharpen your cutlasses, and the 
day is your own." So I daresay it would have been ; 
but the day never came. The Russian fleet knew 
better than to try the edge of those sharp cutlasses. 
It took refuge from the fire-eating admiral and his 
sharp weapons behind the fortifications at Cronstadt, 
and allowed him to cruise in their waters undisturbed. 



NAPIEB IN THE BALTIC. 241 

I was one of four thousand loyal Englishmen who 
were cooped up in St. Petersburg during Sir 
Charles Napier's sojourn in the Baltic and the Gulf 
of Finland; and it may be imagined with what feel- 
ings we found ourselves in the midst of a people 
whose capital our fleet was blockading, and whose 
monster stronghold in the Black Sea our soldiers were 
reducing to ashes. When we were told that '' fight- 
ing Charlie" had declared he would breakfast at 
Cronstadt, lunch at Peterhof, and dine at a fashion- 
able hour in the capital, after his day's work, there 
were many of us who really believed that Sir Charles 
would dine some fine day in Petersburg after taking 
Cronstadt, and there were even certain preHminary 
arrangements made for a great banquet to be given 
to the conqueror. The distance to Cronstadt is only 
eighteen miles, and we listened every day, every 
hour for the roar of the battle. The Russians, who 
were as confident as we were that Sir Charles meant 
fighting, found their materials of war in a deplorable 
state ; their powder was said to be mixed with earth 
in the proportion of three to one, the difference 
having gone into the pockets of the purveyor and 
the receiver of stores. Disorganisation and dread 
were therefore the order of the day for a short 
anxious period. Immense trains of civilians, with 
their effects, passed through Petersburg jfrom Cron- 
stadt to the interior. None but fighting-men re- 
mained in the doomed stronghold, and many of these 
were quaking in their boots. 

It was and is still the opinion of all intelHgent 



242 RUSSIAN UVE. 

Englishmen who were in Petersburg then, that had 
our fleet made the attack at this moment, it would 
a^uredly have taken Cronfitadt. In whidi case, by 
this time the boming of Petersburg by the hands 
. of the Eussians themselves would have been, a mat- 
ter of as great historical interest as the burning of 
Moscow. 

The English then in St. Petersbuijg were in 
great excitement; and although peaceable fixreigners 
of all kinds had been by a special ukase j^a«ra«teed 
the Emperor's protection, stillfor a time consider- 
able doubt existed. Public ineetings were out of the 
.question; but many private gatherings took place 
under the name of social family parties, birthday- 
feasts, and the like. I had heard of tiiese, and 
'managed to get myself ent^*ed for the next. It 
\ soon came. A great birthday was to come off in a 
certain weltfrequented Enghsh lodging'-house and 
private hotel in the Qalemey Btreet. 

' That street, though narrow and gloomy when 
compared with oflier of the city thoroughfares, is one 
of the best known in St. Petersburg ; particularly 
known to foreigners. The house appointed for the 
gathering was as well known as ihe street, althou^ 
used principally by the humbler classes of English 
residents and visitors. The street contains many 
lodgings and counting-houses of foreign merchaats. 
One end, flanked by the Seoate^house, faces St. 
Isaac's plain and the Admiralty buildings, where 
rides Peter the Great on his war-horse. The other 
end is flanked by the building-yard of the New 



\ 



THE ENGLISH IN ST. FJETERSBURG. 243 

Admiralty. In the centre is the .palace of the 
Grand Duke Nicholas, brother to the Emperor ; and 
.branching off right and left are banking establish- 
ments and palaces of Mentchikoff, Bobrinsky, and 
others. Here stood the English lodging-house, for 
ninety years the home of a certain class of English- 
men and of Americans. .It stood, and probably yet 
'Btaixds, in a court, and has the least possible claim to 
idegance. Grossing the dirty court, under a low 
wooden pordbi, and over an old horseshoe nailed to 
the threshold, we passed through a narrow passage, 
.and at once entered the large dining-xoqm .of l^e 
'Establishment. 

There was a long table, and round it, on paralytic 
chairs, sat some thirty or forty Englishmen smokiiig 
and drinking. Seeking a more retired spot, we passed 
through to a room adjoining; but here the noise was 
wOTse ; and as the tobacco-ffloaoke rolled by in clouds 
we could discern on the walls Bendigo, Tom Spring, 
the Fljring Dutchman, and Voltigeur, in company 
with the Queen, Prince Albert, and Lord Palmer- 
ston. They looked do¥m upon a company of eager 
men, smoking cigars, spinning cotton (verbally), 
making machines of all kinds, weaving calico, build- 
ing ships, bridges, and engines. During the short 
time we could endure the smoke, the words that most 
assailed the «ar were such as " valves, eccentrics, pa- 
rallel motions, vacuum ;" and, as ten arguments were 
going on at once, the cry was of "turbine, water- 
wheel, self-actors, gearing, power-loom, sewing-ma- 
chines, shuttles, spindles, wheels, shafts, pulleys." 



244 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

My friend whispered to me that more machines had 
been made, more engines bnilt, more calico woven, 
out of tobacco-smoke, in that small room during the 
last thirty years, than in all Bussia and England to- 
gether. 

Cards were in use at two tables, the jflayers being 
grooms and horse-boys — managers of the studs of 
Russian counts and princes ; for, even in respect of 
horse-flesh, English skill is paid for in Russia at high 
salaries. Among this company was also a Yankee, 
proprietor of a living hairy woman, Julia Pastrana, 
whom he was exhibiting in Petersburg. Since the 
time of which I write, Julia, poor hideous creature, 
has departed this life, so has her child. Their master 
got them embalmed in Moscow, but the doctors kept 
them as curiosities. Afterwards the Yankee claimed 
and received the bodies, on the groimd that he was 
father of the one and husband of the other; and, after 
exhibiting them in this state in various parts of the 
world, he ultimately disposed of them for a considera- 
tion to some one in London. Following the Yankee, 
there were two clowns from the circus, some half- 
dozen nigger singers and dancers from the Mineral 
Waters, and a couple of chorus -singers from the 
Italian Opera. In a comer sat a few commercial 
gents, clerks and salesmen from the English maga- 
zine, and mechanics from BairtFs. There were cap- 
tains of ships, boiler - makers, paper - makers, ship- 
builders, master-tailors, farriers, coal-agents, — all of 
them English, Scotch, Irish, and American. 

Retreating from this din, we sought a quieter 



AN ENGLISH LODGING-HOUSE. 245 

life somewhere else; and popping our heads into a 
side room, off the right of the entrance-passage, found 
the other half of this odd comer of life. This was 
the "ladies" room: not a male monster amongst 
them. "Let us go," I said; "this won*t do." 

"Stop," said my companion, "do not judge too 
hastily; remember this is the only place in Peters- 
burg where such a crowd of English can assemble, 
all sorts being welcome ; and depend on it, you will 
find as sterling loyalty, good sense, and worth here 
as in many a place of more outward refinement. 
Let us sit down here among the engineers at the 
dining-table." 

Here the noise was less, and the conversation 
rather interesting. " These men," said my Mentor, 
^^ are out of place. They have thrown up excellent 
situations and high salaries, rather than help the 
Russians against their own country. They have been 
employed in the building of steam-ships, frigates, en- 
gines, gun-boats, batteries, and docks for the Russian 
government. Almost to a man, as soon as war was 
declared, they demanded their passports, and they are 
now making arrangements to take the rather danger- 
ous journey overland to England. 

" That old veteran with the iron-gray hair and the 
massive forehead is from the celebrated Penns of Lon- 
don ; he is a Scotchman, and is called Old Wallace. 
Young Wallace sits next him ; you see he is a stout 
thick-set fellow, with arms and shoulders like his 
namesake. He is a highly-skilled engineer from Na- 
piei^s on the Clyde; and was engaged only a few 



246 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

weeks before the war on a Bussiaa first*rate, fitting 
up two 600-horse-power engines. A few weeks more 
of his skill would have sufficed to send this ship out^ 
an active enemy to England; but these few weeks he 
would not give. 

" ^No, no/ said Wallace, ^I winna stop a minute; 
money won't keep m^ and war breaks a' contracts. 
Ell be wanted at Clyde noo, I'm thinking; and the 
sooner I'm hame, the better.' 

^* Beside him sits little Hargreaves, late engineer 
of the emperor's yacht ; and Merriton, who has left a 
situation worth 500Z. a year with the American Com- 
pany, rather than assist that company in building and 
fitting out ten new gun-boats. Then there are Do- 
naldson and Young, Thomson and Wilson, engineers 
of boats belonging to the Baltic fleet. And there 
are the managers of the various departments in the 
large engineering establishment of Baird's, in which 
also Russian engines and boats axe to be made aaid 
built. 

"About half-a-dozen who had been . navigating 
the Baltic, and had gained a certain knowledge of 
these waters and of Cronstadt are to be sent into the 
interior as prisoners of war. They know too much 
to be allowed to go. Just now they are under police 
surveillance, but only to see that they do not leave 
the city." 

The feeling of nationality was intense amongst 
these workmen; and there was sound sense and 
judgment in their talking. The long delay of Sir 
Charles Napier in taking Cronstadt seemed to fill 



V 



SPIES. 247 

them with disgust. It could be done; the way was 
fireely discussed, aud to my mind evidently practi- 
cable; 

In the midst of att this conversation two persons 
glided into the room, seated themselves a little apart, 
and called for "bottel vine." 

" They are pretty well got up for Englishmen," 
said one of the engineers, " but their hats don't fit." 

"Rats!" cried a voice, clear and distinct, above 
the Babel of sounds around; and immediately the 
weather became the one topic of conversation. Pre- 
sently the landlord — a tall jolly-looking fellow, with 
black curly hair, broad good-humoured countenance,, 
white vest and cravat, gold studs in clean linen, wine- 
coloured frock, and the genuine air of a butler — ^wraat 
to the strangers, while a circle of guests gathered 
round. 

"What do you want here ?" said Tom the land- 
lord. 

"O, noting; come spend, money, make fun, drink 
glass grog ; that all. Good Englishmen." 

"No," said Tom. ^' You are Bussians; you have 
mistaken the house. This is a party of my private 
fiiends, and you have no invitation. Get out di*» 
rectly! Away with you! My house admits none but 
clean English." 

This was all I heard.. The strangers- seemed to 
resist being turned out. There was a great noise of 
voices, then a struggle for a moment, and then I saw 
the two spies lifted in the arms of several strong fet 
lows, and unceremoniously fhmg out into the yard. 



• 248 BUSSIAN LITE. 

After this, the business of the evening proceeded 
sus if nothing had happened. Supper came, and a 
great feast it was. Tom's wife took the head of the 
table, tucked up her sleeves to the shoulders, and be- 
gan to carve in magnificent style. She was a tall, 
stout, good-looking woman of a certain age, with an 
eye like a hawk's, and a great power of tongue and 
arm. Tom, in subjection to his helpmate, took the 
foot of the table ; and, as in many other things, mo- 
destly followed the lead of the superior spirit. As for 
Tom himself, he came to Russia many years ago in 
the suite of Lord Bloomfield, when that nobleman 
was ambassador to the Court of Nicholas ; finding 
diplomacy slow work, Tom sought distinction and 
profit, as many others have done, in marriage. The 
widowed mistress of the Galemey English lodging- 
house was willing; so Tom entered on immediate 
and permanent possession of a buxom wife and pay- 
ing business. I am told Tom has a tender heart. 
His house is open to all the unfortunate English 
aspirants after fortune, who have fallen down the 
ladder ; such he will keep for years. 

^^ If they get situations, they will pay me ; if not, 
it cannot be helped; they cannot be houseless in a 
strange land and starve." 

So he talks and so he acts. He will gallop through 
town and country amongst English residents to collect 
money for a needy widow, whose husband has left her 
destitute with half-a-dozen little ones, and then ship 
her off to her friends in England with five or six hun- 
dred roubles in her pocket. This happens of tener 



A PATRIOTIC SUPPER. ' 249 

than might be expected, coilsidering the high wages 
that artisans and skilled workmen get. Be this as 
it may, Tom's house is not only a refuge for those 
who have fallen, but the starting-point for many of 
those who would climb. Both men and women go 
to Russia on speculation, with high hopes and empty 
purses. Tom gives such people board and lodging, 
and help till work is found. 

But supper is over; the plum-pudding has dis- 
appeared in the blue flame of brandy ; confusion is 
transformed to order by the election of a chair- 
man. He opens with a speech upon the nature of 
the war, and ends with the speedy reduction of 
Oronstadt by the English fleet under " old Charlie," 
A song follows ; it has been made for the occasion by 
the singer, is very well received, and so apt to the 
excited feelings of the company, that at its close all 
rise and give three tremendous cheers. Here is a 
verse of it : 

" There's a fleet that dares not leave her ports, 

Nor sail in any sea ; 
But, crouching close behind her forts, 

She skulks, and shuns the free. 
The coward slaves, who tread the deck. 

No flag have e'er unfurled ; 
They know 'twould sink in smoke and wreck — 

A lesson to the world." 

Chorus, something about a " dastard flag, deny it who 
can," and ending with " man to man," 

It touched the right spot in each patriotic heart, 
and judging by the feeling it excited, there existed 
nowhere on earth truer and more loyal subjects ot 



250 HusBiAif Lnrs. | 

Qneen Victoria than were assembled here on this 
occasion. Champagne' (at fifteen shillings per bottle) 
sparkled, glasses jingled, toasts, speeches, songs fol- 
lowed one another : " The Qneen, God bless her !'^ 
" liord Pam," "The vigoa^ons prosecution of the War," 
"OH England," "Home;" and many others; and 
the meeting separated not long before dawn. It was 
two A.M. when I reached the third line Vasilli Od- 
troff, my temporary domicile. 

Mr. Beadly (let me call him) of the evening | 

party was in bed at eight o'clock a.m. when his wife | 

rushed in, with a terrified look, and roused him fix)m j 

sleep : " O William ! what can you have been about 
last night ? Here aare the police inquiring for you ; 
I told them you were unwell, and could not be seen." 
Mr. B. gave his benediction to the police, and asked 
who had come, 

" It is Evan Petrovitch, the head of the — Chast, 
and his man ; they are in the next room." 

" Ah ! quite so," said Mr. Beadly. " I see I must j 

be quick, or somebody will get into trouble." 

Now it must be mentioned that this gentleman 
had been in Russia long enough to know both men 
and things indifferently well, and. had had dealings, 
always beneficial to his countrymen, with the police 
on more than one occasion. He gave two or three 
terrible groans, sure to be heard in the next room, 
and while hastily pulling on his clothes continued the 
groans at intervals. In a minute or two he was 
ready. " Now,!' he said, " Mary, go to these poKce 
gentlemen, place brandy and wine, cheese and bread 



BUSINESS WITHTHE POLICE. 251 

before them;- Tell theia-I am bad. with toothache,, 
engaged with my dentist; and they will obhge me 
by waiting a little. On no aecouut allow them to 
come in here." As he said the last.words, he opened 
the door leading to the back lane, rushed through 
a passage down stairs, mounted a/ (i?oshky, and drove, 
off to the — Chast, where he popped fifty kopecks 
into the hand of the janissary at the door, and 
was in. a trice? ushered iatb the presence of the 
magistrate of the district ia. which the meeting had 
taken place. 

This gentleman was a quiet, easy, good-natured, 
man. He had not opened out. for the day, but was 
leisurely sipping his coffee and smoking a " papeross" 
in his own sanctUm^-nio doubb calculating the num- 
ber of "takes" he was likely to get that day, and. 
dreaming of a nice little emeanie (estate), valued at 
300 soulsy that he would be able to buy if he could, 
only hold this particular " chast" another year or so»» 
But the worthy man had an enemy, an active one^ 
who had been plotting to deprive him of it. This 
was no other than Evan Petrovitch, at that moment: 
drinking wine and eating cheese in Mr. Beadly's 
house. Now, on a clear calculation of illicit fees,, 
the one " chast" was worth 3000 per cent more than 
the other ; hence the struggle of the one to retain, 
and the other: to obtain it. 

"Grood morning, Nicholi Ephraimovitch ; I hope 
you are well." 

" Thank God, I am well ; are you also enjoying 
health, Gospodine Beadly ? Pray what brings you 



252 RUSSIAN LIFE, 

here SO early? No trouble, I hope. Take a papeross 
and tell me." 

"Yes, trouble; but to yourself. Last evening, 
while you were drunk at the Traktere, there was 
held a great meeting in Tom B.'s under your very 
nose. I will give you the particulars. Take your 
pen. Are you ready ?" 

"Yes." 

" Well," continued Beadly. " Birthday-party on 
a large scale; supper, champagne, toasts, speeches. 
Queen's health. Emperor's health" (this Beadly says 
is the only thing on his conscience), " talk about the 
war, the fleet, Cronstadt, all bombast, songs, birthday 
gift ; all harmless and quiet ; left at two o'clock. That 
is your report. Now listen : Evan Petrovitch, your 
friendj is even at this moment waiting in my ante- 
chamber until I get several teeth extracted — ^bad 
toothache, you see. He wants some information ; and 
he wants your place. While you were at the Trak- 
tere playing billiards, he was at the party, capitally 
got up. I thought at one time that I knew the 
feUow; but afterwards could not find him. Now 
I am sure it was he; and as he knows me, he 
imagines I may give him a hint to help his report. 
You must get your report in before him; do you 
see?" 

The "stan" had been writing very fast while 
Mr. B. was speaking, and finishing the paper, he 
rang a hand-bell, which brought an official. 

"Order my droshky out. It must be ready in 
five minutes. Begone I Ah, I see, Mr. B. ; just give 



POLICE REPORTS. ' 253 

me a few of the names of the guests ; any of them 
will do. Good morning, Mr. B. As your teeth are 
now pulled out and your toothache is better, go back 
to Evan Petrovitch, and oblige me still more by 
keeping him engaged just one quarter of an hour ; 
that will be plenty of time. I am quite satisfied that 
your meeting was all quite regular and proper. Evan 
won't get my chast this time, the pig !" 

Off sped B. to give audience to Evan Petrovitch, 
and off drove Nicholi to General P., the head of the 
secret police, with his report. 

The general, after reading the report, merely 
said, "Very good ; I am not a&aid that the English 
will hatch any treason. They can meet and have 
their grog and beefsteak, and make speeches, as much 
as they like among themselves. You are quite right, 
however, to be diligent. But there is one thing which 
must be attended to—" At this moment an attendant 
announced Evan Petrovitch. "Admit him," said 
the general. The moment he entered, and found 
Nicholi there, he saw he was foiled. Nevertheless he 
presented his report. His Excellency read : " A trea- 
sonable and dangerous meeting among English last 
night in the Galemey lodging-house. No. 31 ;" and 
then he read the whole report sotto voce, and said: 
" But that is not your chast, is it, sir?" 

" No, your Excellency ; but, as I told your Ex- 
cellency before,* that chast is not properly looked 
after. If I may — ^" 

" No, you may not. I think differently. It ap- 
pears to me that it is particularly well looked after. 



254 BU8SIAK LIFE. 

There are two reports abont a very simple aflBiir, 
and I find them substantiallj the same. You, air, 
had better mmd yoor own district ; hut allow me to 
tell joa both, as I was about to say when you, Evan 
Fetrovitch, were amionnced, that I have had a fuller 
and more perfect account before any of yours came ; 
and the only objectionable incident is one that neither 
of you notice. A scurrilaas song was sung, reflecting, 
in bitter terms, upon our country, the Czar, and the 
Russian fleet. The singer of the song is the author 
of it ; and had he done .nothing but sing it, I should 
not have oared to trouble him ; but he gave copies. 
He is known ; but those who received copies my in- 
iformant does not know yet. Now mark me; I want 
'a copy of » that song. When yon get it, apprehend 
the author. That is his address." 

This took place about nine o'clock. Early the 
same morning the author of the song was roused firom 
his sleep by a message from the head of poUce sum- 
moning him to appear immediatdy. On obeying 
this summons, he found, to his astonishment, that he 
had been invited to a talk about very ordinary affidrs. 
At parting, however, the general, in a casual manner, 
said, " O, by the bye, Mr. — y you make verses some- 
times, do you not? A poet, I beUeve." This, said 
with a peculiar twinkle of intelligence in the eye of 
the querist, opened the eyes of our poet. He had 
a sudden vision of a prison and Siberia; but, con- 
trolling himself with difiiculty, and laying hold of 
the back of a chair to support his shaking knees, 
he said : 



SUB JOVE 'TJCMTMIIES. 255 

^^Y'our Excell^icy, I sen no poet. I may have 
made a few verses ; but Eussia is a bad place for the 
muse." 

" Ah, I see. That will do. I am glad you are 
not a poet. I don't care, you know; but ©tkers 
might. Suppose any one I knew or reapeoted had 
really made some rather strong lines on the present 
war : suppose he had sung them ; last night, for in- 
stance ; and even given away a few copies of them ; 
I would tell him he was a great fool, and that he was 
playing with edge-tools — an egregious fool, certainly, 
in these times. But then, you know, fools are some- 
times necessary to their famihes, and so on ; and as 
these families might be inconvenienced by an ex- 
tended absence of their head, I would advise such 
a fool to lose no time, not a minute, in getting back 
these copies and burning them to tinder. I know 
nothing of such a fooUsh person, of course. I hope 
there are none such under my orders. But if you 
know of any, just hint as much from me. Tell him 
what I have said. Good morning." 

The poor fellow could not speak; but giving the 
kind-hearted general a look of heartfelt gratitude, 
he sprang down stairs, ran home, and burnt every 
scrap of tell-tale paper ; then muffling himself up in 
a large cloak, he got out horses and drove to the 
homes of those to whom he had given copies of his 
song. In two hours all was safe. During the day his 
house was searched, and his papers were examined; 
so were the houses of those who had received copies ; 
in fact, he assisted in one search himself. But, of 



/ 



256 BUSSIA17 LIFE. 

course no paper of any consequence was found ; and 
so the matter dropped. 

By what means the general got his information 
I cannot tell ; but it was whispered to me that there 
were such things as renegade Englishmen found 
sometimes among the Bussian secret police. 



CHAPTER XVn. 

OFFIGIAIi AND COMMEBGIAL. 

Pbofitably to understand trading in Russia, the 
import duties and the excise laws, the restrictions, 
privileges, grants, and concessions, the guild corpora- 
tion and town dues, the police regulations and cnstonw' 
house requirements, where one can trade and where 
not, what one can trade in and what not^ to what 
extent, under what guild one can export and import, 
take contracts, commence a manufactory, or open a 
shop, to discover the duties and prices of the subordi* 
nate icks and so forth, would require, as was said by 
a celebrated English commercial reformer who visited 
Russia some years ago, a course of many years' train- 
ing at a imiversity teaching the principles and prac- 
tice of chicanery, bribery, smuggling, and lying. 

English merchants have had no cause to complain 
of their " returns" in Russia. They have held, and 
hold now, a great share of many of the main branches 
of Russian export and import ; they have the flax, 
hemp, grain, tallow, hides, and bristles, together 
with the chief importations of machinery, and other 
things. 

The centre about which their organisation revolves 

s 



258 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

is the Factory, while the circumference touches the 
farthest points in the interior of Eussia's vast empire 
on the one side, and on the other the strong rooms 
and iron safes of the great London banks, and of the 
merchant princes of England. Admission to the cir- 
cles of the Factory, to the small exclusive coteries of 
first-gnild EngHsh merchants, is charily given. It is 
not difficult to find society amongst the free and 
polite circles of the Eussian nobility ; but an introduc- 
tion from Earl Eussell to the embassy, with docu- 
mentary evidence as to *^ weight" from Threadneedle 
and Lombard Streets, are the only certain passports 
to the society of leading English merchants. Li 
other respects they are all honourable men, kind and 
generous, liberal to the poor, and in all cases good 
and loyal subjects of our Queen. There are mer- 
chants in this circle who are, in the truest sense of 
the word, English gentlemen, and bring the nicest 
sense of honour to their dealings under a corrupt 
commercial system. 

But my purpose now is to speak of its influence 
on the character of the mass of traders. I cannot 
show this better than by repeating the substance of a 
conversation I had with a rich trader who lives on 
the Island that is the quarter in Petersburg where 
"merchants most do congregate." He soon told me 
that his motto was, to do in Eome as the Eomans do« 
'^ Fight them with their own weapons, sir; that is the 
plan. Drive a mine under theirs and blow them up ; 
but do it safely, legally, you know. Difficulties? Yes, 
T believe you. But money overcomes all difficulties 



GOVERNMENT CONCESSIONS. 259 

in Bussia, The great thing is to meet the Bussians 
on their own ground, and just do as they do. 

" Take a government concession. Well, sir, some 
fellow with a scheming head ai^d not a kopeck in his 
pocket discovers that Petersburg or Moscow is dark, 
so he wiU offer gas ; or dry, so he will offer water. Of 
course you know as well as I do that his mind is set 
neither on gas nor water. He wants roubles. He is 
great as a draughtsman; or, if not, he employs some- 
body who is. A fine array of plans and drawings on 
a large scale, beautifully coloured, is got up. I have 
observed the Kussians, in their present state of national 
childhood, to be very fond of pictures. The projec- 
tor then taUcs of a concession or privilege for ninety 
years. He does not know how to get it. He comes 
to me. I make a bargain, and direct him where to 
go. General Butteraloaffski and his Excellency 
Count Takethecreamoffski, for thirty, forty, or fifty 
thousand roubles, imdertake to get the concession. 
The battle is won, and victory sits smiling on the 
projector's brazen — ^what is it ? The great men with 
the long names having obtained the privilege, the 
company is formed and shares are issued. The thing 
is to pay fifty per cent. The ofiice is opened and 
besieged with buyers. Shares go up. The company's 
grant or concession usually extends to the imlimited 
importation, duty free, of all materials necessary for 
the works. Enormous quantities beyond what is re- 
quired are imported, and sold at a large profit ; which, 
together with ten or fifteen per cent from the makers 
and builders of the works, nearly all goes into the 



260 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

projector's pocket. He also gets a large sum firom 
the company for management, and from fifteen to 
twenty thousand roubles for the original plans, long 
before the works are ready. Of course, also, long 
before they have been practically tested he is a rich 
man, and retires to ^Vaterland,' leaving the whole 
affair in irretrievable confusion. His plans are at 
last found to be mere fancy pictures, and the works 
erected in accordance with them — ^as in the case of 
the Petersburg Water Company — become a monu- 
ment of the projector's incapacity and the stupidity 
of shareholders. The shares go down, and great is 
the rage of the said holders. Bat what cares the 
fortunate projector? He has caught his hare. 

" Contracts are different things, and rather curi- 
ously managed. ^Torgs,' as they are called here, or 
auctions, as you English would call them, take place 
in a government office. The contract is offered at an 
upset price, and knocked down to the lowest bidder. 
Some time ago I travelled from Moscow to Petersburg 
with twenty tailors. I had gone to Moscow on pur- 
pose to do this. The twerty men were going to 
attend a torg for 100,000 suits of sailors' and soldiers' 
clothes. I wanted the contract, and had bought up 
all the competing tailors in Petersburg ; but the Mus- 
covites I knew must also be purchased. Eighteen of 
the twenty had no other intention than to be bought. 
They lived by torgs, and were easily managed. But 
the other two ^ meant it;' and with them I had some 
tough bargaining, and much striking of hands, before 
I persuaded one of them not to bid for the contract. 



GOVERNMENT TORGS. 261 

The other, an old, wily, oily, long-bearded, hook-nosed 
Schneider, was incorrigible. He was determined to 
go in and win. I was not less determined. The fact 
is, sir, I had already sold the contract, and must get 
it. What was to be done? We were approaching 
BuUagonie, a station, as you know, where the up and 
down trains meet. I took my course ; paid my men, 
the tailors, an extra sum, and the guards of the two 
trains got something. The result was, that they 
managed to get my obstinate friend into the Moscow 
train, and before he found out the trick he was far on 
the way back to his own home. On the same day at 
eleven o'clock I got the contract, and the Schneider 
lost his bribe. A man should not be stubborn, you 
see, but do as others do." 

" How much did you make by this torg ?" I 
asked. 

"O, that is my own affair. But I can tell you 
that those tailors got more than would keep them all 
comfortably for a year or two. As I said before, they 
live on torgs. I know a countryman of yours who 
makes a very good thing also of the government 
torgs, and it was I who put him up to it. He came 
to me, and wanted my help to negotiate a government 
contract. We drove to the proper bureau to examine 
the plans and specification. By calculation done on 
the spot, your countryman found that the work could 
be done for forty thousand roubles, and at that sum 
leave a profit. But the contract was too large for 
him, so he said he should think no more of it. Now 
that did not suit me, and I soon convinced him that 



262 BUSBIAN LIFE. 

it would not suit him either. He therefore put in as 
a competitor for the work. Six other contractors had 
come to the same conclusion, that the work could be 
done for forty thousand, though the government offer 
was an upset price of one hundred thousand, the 
lowest bidder imder that sum getting the contract. 
The seven met. One of them bought out the other 
six ; and when the torg took place it was knocked 
down to him for ninety-six thousand roubles; the 
difference between this^ stun and forty thousand beiag 
sheer surplus. Your countryman received his share 
from it for backing out ; I got my little commission ; 
and the government paid exactly fifty-six thousand 
roubles too much for its whistle." 

" But," I asked, " how came the government to 
put so ridiculously high a price upon the work?" 

"Your simplicity is great. Do you not know 
that the government appoints an architect to make 
the plans, and fix the price. Now there is a rule 
quietly kept in such matters, that the successful com- 
petitor shall pay the architect ten per cent on the 
gross amount of the contract. Do you not see that it 
is his interest to make the price given as high as pos- 
sible? Had it been brought down to its real value 
in this case, four thousand roubles is all he would 
have taken ; whereas he got nine thousand six hun- 
dred. Do you see now why the government upset 
price is ridiculously high ? 

" Sir, I am speaking of things that are no secret ; 
but these are nothing to the doings at the custom- 
house. It is astonishing how many fellows make 



SHUQGLIIIG. 263 

large and small fortunes there on little pay; so very 
little indeed^ that it would not keep them in cigars, 
but for the nice way they have of managing. 

" Smuggling is an ugly word; and they are only 
low creatures, who do not know better, who will 
venture to run cargoes or smuggle by land. No 
doubt this is done to a great extent, considering the 
enormous frontiers of Bussia, and her suicidal tariff; 
but it is always dangerous, besides being demoralising. 
I should advise no man to try it, when he can manage 
the whole thing by commission safely and legally 
through the custom-house itself in a business-like 
manner. I had at one time some experience in 
^ running^ and smuggling ; but I have dropt this vul- 
^gar practice long ago, and now follow the proper 
way of trade — ^that is, bring every thing through the 
'CUstom-house in a regular form. And, sir, it pays 
better ; that is the main point." 

"But, my dear sir," I said, "how can you smug- 
gle through the custom-house ? It seems incredible." 

"I do not smuggle. I pay a commission, and the 
thing is done. Just look at this pianoforte — a first- 
rate ^ grand' from Broadwood. Had that instru- 
anent come through the ^Tamoshny' as a 'forte- 
piano,' it would have cost me one hundred roubles, 
that is fifteen pounds of your money. But, sir, I 
shipped it as a thrashing-machine — ^my children have 
certainly made it one — ^and it cost me no duty at all ; 
machinery, you know, is the only thing duty firee. I 
paid my expediter his little commission, and he 
jnanaged to convince the examining official, by what 



264 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

means I do not stop to inquire^ that a thrashing-ma^ 
chine it was, and as such it passed. Now do you 
comprehend?" 

*^ Not quite. What is an expediter ?" 
" Well, an expediter is a man appointed to help 
foreign traders. He is supposed to prevent needless 
delays, and overcharges of duties, and to make the 
declarations and entries in the custom-house books* 
The merchant is supposed to look to him for justice 
and fair play, against the extortion of officials. He 
ought to represent the merchant and importer, and to 
see that he is not cheated in any way. That is the 
theory of his office ; and if you make it worth his while 
no doubt he will act up to it all, and do a great deal 
more for you. He can get the officials to pass any 
thing under any name you choose, only, you know,, 
the commission varies with the case. His own inte* 
rest is of course the principle on which the expediter 
acts, and not the interest of his employer. Those 
who pay him well enough get all they want ; those 
who stand up for plain dealing and justice get what 
they don't like. I know the case of a simpleton who 
was beginning business in Petersburg, and imported 
a rather /large quantity of plain white glass ware. 
This article figures iq. the tariff list at two roubles^ 
and twenty-five kopecks per pood. He meant simply 
to pay the proper duty in a straightforward way. He 
was ignorant, and had to be taught. A competent 
commission was not offered to the expediter. Well, 
by some singular optical delusion the examining 
officials, under the inspection and in the presence of.' 



THB CUSTOM-HOUSE. 265 

his expediter, found that all this man's white glass 
was coloured and gilded. The duty was thus raised 
to ten roubles per pood. But that was not all. Be- 
cause the glass was called ^ white' glass in the decla^ 
ration, when the expediter and his accomplices had 
transformed it into coloured and gilt, he was fined 
.fifty per cent for a false declaration. This added 
another five roubles to the ten already put on ; and 
the end of the matter was that the importer had to 
pay forty-five shillings per pood, instead of seven 
shillings, and his clear loss from the transaction was 
about one hundred pounds. Protest or redress was^ 
and always is, out of the question ; the expediter 
and the officials being leagued to maintain their 
own decisions. This and some other transactions 
with the custom-house of a like nature, in which 
the same man stood out for payment of just dues and 
no corruption, ruined him. Still you will perceive 
that it was all his own fault. He had nobody to 
blame but himself; he set himself against the customs 
of the custom-house, and lost the game. No, sir, it 
will not do to live in Bome and not do as the Bomans 
do. I don't say that all the expediters are of this 
stamp. Some of those who are employed exclusively 
by the large firms are far above such things, and of 
imblemished character; but the system gives ground 
for a general complaint among the ignorant trades- 
men and smaller merchants of Bussiathat the custom- 
house is to them a place of robbery. To us who 
know the value of an opening for profit, and who 
have been educated by experience, it has a very 



266 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

different aspect. We are quite satisfied, and want no 
change." 

Without vouching for every word told me by my 
commercial &iend, I may say from my own know- 
ledge that his experience is common enough tp be 
well worth the attention of the high dignitaries of 
Bussia who have the good of their country at heart 
The same determined will and generous spirit that 
decreed and firmly carried out the emancipation of 
about thirty million of slaves may find it a more 
difficult task to purify the public departments of the 
government. 

Although my friend had told me that direct 
smuggling, or *^ running a cargo," was in a great 
measure superseded by the ease with which fraud can 
be practised legally and safely through the custom- 
house itself, I chanced to find very soon after this 
conversation that direct smuggling is still carried on, 
to some extent at least. 

One evening I was on the quay in front of the 
custom-house looking for a ship whose captain, I 
knew, had brought me a small parcel from friends far 
away. It was dusk, and the patrol w^e in their 
gray coats, walking about in various directions, while 
the deck of every vessel in the harbour had the cus- 
tom-house men in command, and every hatch was 
sealed up till morning brought the labourers to work 
again. When I had made out the well-known hull 
of the ship I wanted to find, carrying my eye along 
the bulwarks, I saw somebody seated on the rail, and 
taking him to be the man I wanted, scrambled over 



N: 



BUNNING A CABGO, 267 

three lighters, stumbling over as many watchmen^ 
who lay there drunk or asleep— drunk no doubt. 

"Dolphin a'hoy," I cried, "send a boat to the 
stairs ; I want to see the skipper.'* 

A voice from the figure on the rail replied in a 
much lower key, " Is that you, Smith? Don't make 
such a fool's noise, but stand where you are a 
minute." 

Presently a boat, sculled by a boy, came under 
me, into which I dropt, and I was soon on the deck 
of the ship, face to face with Captain Stripes. I 
■am not Smith, and consequently the skipper, I saw, 
was disappointed. 

"Ah! it is you; how are you? I imagined it 
was Mr. Smith. But never mind, come into the 
<^abin. Here, Tom, keep a look-out for Smith, and 
bring him on board." 

As I crossed the after-hatch to reach the cabin, 
I found the ship's crew busy passing boxes, bales, and 
hampers over the side. 

"Now," said the captain, after he had given me 
my little parcel and placed a square bottle with a box 
of cheroots on the table, "make yourself comfort- 
able till I come back. I won't be long ; but stay 
where you are till I do come." 

Genuine cognac and the best Cubans are not to 
be despised after a winter^s poisoning with the vil- 
lanous compounds sold in Petersburg and Moscow ; 
so I bided his time philosophically. When he came 
back, 

" Excuse me," he said, " for keeping you a prisoner 



V 



268 KUSSIAN LIFE4 

*so long. The fact is, we have a little job on hand 
to-night, and I was waiting for Smith to pilot us." 

" What !" I said, « smuggHngf" 

^* A little that way. By the bye, you might be 
able to tell me how to find the place we want. Do 
you know Prince D ^'s country-house T 

'^ Prince D ? why, that is the chief of — ^^ 

" Hold hard," said the captain ; " that's the maUi. 
Do you know his place, and could you direct me how 
to find it r 

" Yes ; I know his place perfectly. It is on the 
K Island ; but unless you know some of the bear- 
ings, I could not direct you to it." 

" What ever am I to do if that fellow Smith don't 
come ? We are all ready. The officers on the quay 
are all bought ; the watchmen in the lighters and on 
board are all lying in the scuppers drunk. Two of 
the ship's boats are full, and men are in them ready 
to heave off. It is now dark, and past the time 
Will you not oblige me by steering the first boat ta 
this place T 

" Not likely," I said. " I have no mind to become 
a contrabandist, and a target for the blunderbusses 
of the custom-house officers. I shall be off, wishing 
you a good-night and a safe run." 

He followed me to the deck, and said something 
in a low voice to his men. In a moment I was lifted 
from my feet, put over the side, and received kicking 
in the arms of the men below, who placed me in the 
seat of honour, with the tiller in my hand. 

There was no help for it. I could not jump over 



n; 



PRESSED BY THE SMUGGLERS. 269 

and swim on shore. I could not bawl out, for I 
might be taken as an accomplice ; besides, I own I 
had no wish to betray the skipper. But then, what 
was to be done ? There were two large boats loaded, 
no doubt with brandy, gin, whisky, cigars, wine, 
tobacco, silks, lace, woollens, perhaps arms for the 
Poles ; and a British subject was impressed against 
his will to become the pilot of a smuggling party on 
a large scale, " running" the goods from under the 
very shadow of the custom-house, and landing them 
at the residence of the chief officer and comptroller 
of customs. So I understood at the time, but after- 
wards learnt that the contemplated landing was at 
a place adjoining, and for another sort of customer. 
There was little time for thinking ; the boats had put 
pff, and were pulling slowly into the river, round the 
custom-house corner. The men in my boat were 
sniggering, and I heard the skipper^s satisfied guffaw. 
This was a small foretaste of what I might expect 
pretty generally if their little scheme succeeded, and 
the thing got wind. "Wait a little, jolly tars," 
thought I, and resolved to take them round the 
island to the spot from which we started. The Neva 
has three courses to the gulf. The main course runs 
past the old city, and between it and the islands 
which lie in clusters along the Finnish coast. The 
largest two are called the Williams and the Peters- 
burg Islands ; these, *as well as the smaller islands, 
are, of course, surrounded by smaller and |larger 
branches of the main streams, so that a sail round 
any or all of these islands in very small steamers is a 



-y 



270 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

favourite summer excursion with the Petersburgians. 
Having had many trips of this kind, I well knew the 
windings of the stream* The prince's residence is on 
one of the smaller islands to the right, and might 
easily be reached by an bourns pull; but I pro* 
posed to give my merry friends a little exercise. The 
boats were heavy ; still we made good way up the 
*Mittle Neva," passing under the Samson Bridge, and 
after a time we found, by a shouting in our rear, that 
somebody was giving chase. By my orders the sailors 
put on a spurt, and, in nautical phrase, " gave way 
with a will." Thus keeping our distance, as we 
passed the prince's place (which was unrecognised by 
any but myself), the pursuit was hotter, and the bawl- 
ing to us to stop was louder. I had no doubt that 
Smith, having been late, and finding the boats gone, 
was following in a river boat. Had it been a govern- 
ment boat that followed, there would have been at 
least six oars, and we should soon have been over- 
hauled; besides, there would have been its bullets 
whistling past our ears. We were a long way be- 
yond the prince's country-house. But my crew were 
easily urged to pull for their lives, and Smith shouted 
in vain, until he gave us up. When my captain 
asked whether we had much farther to go, I replied, 
" Yes, a good bit." And so by one ruse and another, 
losing my bearings, running a-ground on shallows, 
getting into creeks and bends with no outlet, and so 
on, I managed to keep them all pulling away round 
this island during four or five hours. Just as day- 
hght began to break, I had placed them in the 



s 



PRESSED BT THE SMtJGGLEBS. 271 

**Chiimey Eetchka'* (Black Stream), and almost 
"Within hail of their own ship. Another ten minutes 
would bring us alongside of the Dolphin. I had no 
wish to tread her decks again, and, telling the man 
in my boat to pull to the side where there was a 
landing-stage, I stepped from the boat ; and, hailing 
my worthy skipper, said to him : " Captain Stripes^ 
this is where I get out, and yonder ship is yours. 
Next time you try running a cargo, get a willing 
pilot. A Yolunteet is worth twenty pressed men. 
Who has the laugh now?" 

He shook his fist goodnaturedly, and was so tickled 
with his own stupidity that he exploded in a burst of 
laughter ; and as I turned away I heard him say to his 
man, " Sold, slick 1" Then he shouted to me, " Stop 
and liquor. C<)ffee and rum in the Dolphin." But 
I hailed a cab instead, and drove home shivering with 
cold. I heard no more of the matter ; but no doubt 
Smith was more punctual to his next appointment. 



CHAPTER THE LAST. 

BOND AND FREE. 

The great holiday — ^the Carnival in some countries 
— Maslinitza or Sweatoi in Eussia, the butter-week 
before Lent, is a time when the Eussians give fiill 
scope to their powers of frolic. Waistless peasant 
women come abroad in all their finery of pink skirts^ 
straight from heels to armpits, snowy teraphins, high- 
crowned head-dresses quivering with tinsel ornaments^ 
red handkerchiefs, wide white sleeves, red ribbons, 
and with much cordage of Siberian beads adorning 
their dun-coloured necks. The unmarried girls, with a 
yard of plaited black hair, are long-tailed charmers of 
the males, who don their best gray felts and sheep- 
skins, blue caftans, polished boots, little low-crowned 
hats studded with white buckles and small peacock V 
feathers, and gird their loins with a red, blue, and 
white worsted sash. Such holiday-makers had taken 
possession of Evanoff sky, and were to their best ability 
making merry. They must make the most of their 
seven days, for after them shall follow a fast of seven 
weeks, during which no animal food is eaten. No 
man may then look on his wife, no sweetheart think 
of her betrothed ; deeds of charity, prayer, penitence, 



\. 



BUTTEB-WEEK. 273 

confession^ and s^-denial are supposed to constitute 

the sum of human life. Harry and I during those 

weeks must kill our own meat^ for nobody else yriU 

be our butcher. And so, to make the most of the 

holiday-week, parties of drunken moushicks stagger 

through the roads clasping one another round the 

neck, others lie sprawling on the ground among the 

dogs and pigs. The cabaks are full of customers, 

gulping down fiery vodki. You may see men go 

in quite sober, stand at the counter five minutes, 

throw back their heads four or five times as each 

tumbler-full vanishes, crying "Augh, charoshyj" 

(good) at each drain. Having in this short time 

drunk four English gills of the strong rye brandy, 

they stagger out, go a few steps, and fall into the 

nearest ditch. There axe parties with bottles in their 

hands hugging and kissing each other, and singing 

snatches of plaintive songs in a minor key; others, 

again, with an accordion — ^price sixpence — ^play some 

jingling tune to others, who dance — or rather make 

desperate efforts to dance — ^before groups of admirers, 

who all join in chorus. The songs are all simple. 

Take for example an universal favourite, — Auch ! mi 

paddy protch^ of which here is one verse literally 

translated : 

" O, dear me, go away with you I 
Take off your hat and pay your respects : 
I'm not a baron ; I'm not a merchant ; 
But for all that, I'm a very nice young man. 

Then go away with you I 
Take off your hat and pay your respects." 

Then there is the never-failing Punch hard upon 

T 



ij/^ 



274 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

A 

Judy; there are swings, hobby-horses, shows and 
theatres, dancing-bears, jugglers, and monkeys. But 
the grand feature of a Eussian Tillage carnival is the 
dreadful labour to which horse-flesh is subjected. 
Every horse that can stand, even on three legs; every { 

sledge, or, if the snow be gone, every vehicle that 
can be patched up with birch-bark, or tied together 
with twigs or ropes, when these are attainable, is being 
driven about, without any definite object, fix)m one 
point to another through the village, at a rate limited \ 

only by the full powers of each horse, and the strength 
of the driver's whip-arm. Those who have no horses 
bargain with those who have. Men and women, boys, 
girls, old gray-headed moushicks and hooded babas 
with infants, — all who are sober enough to hold on, * 

ride at this jovial time, whooping, singing, and shout- 
ing at the full stretch of their voices. Moushick wit 
is flying in all directions, as the carriages pass one * 

another ; and two dozen of neck-and-neck races may 
be going on at one time. All this continues from i 

morning till night for three days, when the cattle are 
dead beat with fatigue. 

At Evanoffsky this junketing was over, Masli- 
nitza, the butter-week, was past, and fasting had 
begun. Priests and people had scarcely slept off the \ 

effects of the revelry when the people were summoned 
to the church to hear read by the holy father, our 
old friend of the cards, the ukase that would make ^ 

them free. As all ukases are promulgated from 
the altar, the priests all over Bussia read this docu- , 

ment, gave it their blessing, sent the people away, 



^ 



ENEMIES OF EMANCIPATION. 276 

and washed their hands of the job. Emissaries, how- 
ever, from the disaffected, who ground their teeth at 
the new policy, and called the Emperor the Great 
Moushick, were sent amongst the serfs, and caused a 
little trouble in some districts distant from the capital. 
Cirafty agitators went about reading false papers, that 
purported to give immediate release from work. The 
serfs in Kazan and some other governments were 
caught in the trap. Some seventeen thousand collec- 
ted in one place, set the local law and their masters at 
defiance, and proceeded to acts of violence and plun- 
der. The soldiers were called out, and the serfs were 
put down, but not until some hundreds had been 
shot. With this exception, and one or- two smaller 
affairs, the peasantry, as at Evanoffsky, received the 
news quietly. Tumultuous rising among the serfs, 
in order to damage their cause, was the point aimed 
at by the emissaries of their enemies ; in this they 
failed, but the peasants did get it into th^ir heads 
that the Emperor meant more for them than was told 
in the ukase. They had hopes that the land would 
be given them without purchase ; that money would 
also be given to help them to work it. Some of them 
fancied that a millennium of wealth without labour 
was at hand ; and though Alexander 11. has since that 
time made the tour of his chief cities and towns for 
the express purpose of explaining in person that no 
more was to be expected from him in that direction, 
still the serf holds out his hand and says "prebavit," 
still he looks for more favours. In this lies a friture 
difficulty. It is in the nature of Russian peasants to 



276 BUBSIAN LIFE. 

depend on gifts of others rather than on independent 
labour. It is said, that when a Russian child first 
opens his mouth in the world he says "prebavit,'*' 
that is, ^^ add to it." If you pay a Bussian ten times 
the value of any piece of work, he will invariably, in 
a piteous whining tone, hold out his hand and say 
" prebavit" — ^add a little more. This propensity i* 
strangely manifested in regard to the new law, and 
troubles may yet come of it. A beggar will never 
work until his own trade altogether fails him. 

For some weeks before the great holiday the pea- 
sants at Evanoffsky and the workmen at the factories 
had shown insubordination to the steward. He found 
it impossible to carry on the necessary work. Half 
the "souls" pretended to be on the sick-list. The 
3tarost and his sotnicks had a hard time of it in 
dragging the refractory, by orders of the steward, to 
the stanovog for punishment, and then driving them 
to work. It was of little use ; the souls resisted sul- 
lenly ; what work was done was spoiled, and several 
machines were broken. A plot was discovered just 
in time to save a large steam-engine from being 
wholly smashed. 

Groups of able-bodied peasants gathered in the 
roads or sauntered through the villages. The stew- 
ard sent for the military commandant ; but he replied 
that so long as the moushicks were quiet he must 
refer him to the resident magistrate, the stan. 
The stan would not take the responsibility of bring- 
ing in the soldiers ; and with all these difficulties the 
steward, poor man, was nearly mad with rage and 



THE UNJUST STEWAAD. 

vexation. Begardless of the altered and altering 
state of the peasants' feelings, he kept the stick in 
constant work. His house-servants came in for a 
ftdl share of his bad temper. They had long suf- 
fered his kicking and cuffing for faults and no faults. 
So keenly did their tormentor relish the stick-disci- 
pline, that he had made it a rule every morning while 
enjoying his pipe and cofifee to have one or two of his 
servants, male or female, beaten by men from the 
police-station. In fact he had been and was a mer- 
ciless tyrant ; but the tables were about to turn. 

On the third morning after Maslinitza, just as he 
was turning on his other side to try another nap (I 
have the scene from one of the actors), a big strong 
moushick, who acted as the steward's coachman, en- 
tered the room rather unceremoniously, and bawled 
out in a peremptory voice, 

^^Oome, master, get up quick 1 You're wanted 
in the great hall." 

The steward started at the unusual summons, and 
stared at the fellow in blank astonishment, imable to 
understand what he meant. 

" Come, I tell you; rise — ^you're wanted." 

"Dog!" roared the steward, ahnost powerless 
with rage — "what do you mean by this insolence! 
•Oetoutl" 

" No," said the man, "I won't get out. You get 
up. They are all waiting." 

" Pig ! ril make you pay for this, let me get hold 
of you, you villain f and he jumped out of bed ; but 
3s he did so he perceived three of his other men ser- 



278 BU8SIAK LIFE. 

vants at the threshold ready to support the coach* 
man. 

" O, this is a conspiracy ; but Til soon settle you^ 
Evan, you devil, where are you? Come here." 

Eyan thus called — ^he was a lacquey — ^appeared 
at the door with a brodd grin on his face. 

^^Did you call, master?" 

" Yes, villain ; don't you see ? I am going to be 
murdered by these pigs. Go instantly for the police- 
men." 

" No, no, baron ; I have gone too often for the 
Stan's men. We can do without them this mom- 

ing." 

**Come, come, master," again struck in the tall 
coachman, ^^ don't you waste our time and keep the 
company waiting. Put on your halat ; never mind 
the rest of your clothes ; you won't need them for a 
little. You won't come — ^nay, but you must." And 
he laid hold of him by the neck. "Come along T 
and so they dragged their victim into the great 
dining-hall. 

There, sitting round the room on chairs and loll- 
ing on the sofas, were all the souls belonging to his 
domestic establishment, about thirty in all. Pillows 
were spread on the floor in the middle of the room ; 
to these the steward was dragged, and forcibly 
stretched on them face down, with two men at his. 
feet and two at his head. 

The coachman, who had been pretty frequently 
chastised in former times, was ringleader. He sat 
down on a large easy-chair, the seat of honour, and 



V 



THE TABLES TURNED, 279 

ordered a pipe and coflPee, This was brought him by 
one of the female servants. When the long cherry- 
tree tube began to draw, in imitation of his master^s 
manner he puffed out the smoke, put on a fierce 
look, stretched out his legs, and said, "Now then, go 
on. Give the pig forty blows ! creapka (hard) !" 

In an instant the halat was torn up, and two 
lacqueys, standing at either side, armed with birch 
rods, slowly and deliberately commenced the flagel- 
lation. The coachman told off the blows as he smoked 
in dignity, "one, two, three," and so on to forty. 

"Now, then,'' said coachee, "stop. Brothers and 
sisters, have we done right ?" 

"Right!" they all said. 

" Is there one here whom he has not beaten ?" 

"None." 

"Are you satisfied?" 

"Yes." 

" Then go, all of you, home, and leave this house. 
Not one must remain. Eelease the prisoner." 

Up jumped their tyrant, little the worse bodily 
for the beating he had got, but he was livid with 
rage. His face turned green and purple, he gnashed 
his teeth, and spat on his rebellious slaves. Speech 
seemed gone, and they all laughed in his face. 

"Master," said the coachman, walking leisurely 
towards the door, " we have not hurt you, but have 
given you a small taste of your own treatment of us 
for many years; how do you like it? We are free 
now, or will be soon, and will not be beaten any more. 
Good-bye; don't forget the stick. And listen. If 



280 RUSSIAN UFK. ^ 

you wliisper a breath against any of us for this mom- 
ing^s work, your life is not worth a kopeck two hours 
after." Each made a respectful bow as he or she 
went out, and the tyrant was left alone in the de- 
serted house. ^ 

It may be supposed that this incident is height- 
ened by the imagination of the writer. I can only 
say that it is repeated as I got it in Eussian from 
Mattyie, the starost's son, one of the actors. It was 
much talked of in Russia at the time it happened. < 

This was a memorable day in Evanoffsky. When 
1 had breakfasted, and was listening to the conclusion 
of Mattvie's account of the steward's castigation, I 
observed that several parties, evidently from distant 
journeys, drove by my windows, and turned into the 
gate leading to the court-house. I did not know 
why there should be so many ghosties, but could 
guess they boded no good to the unjust steward. \ 

Dismissing Matt with a rebuke for his share in the 
morning^s work — a rebuke which, by the bye, did not ^ 

come from my heart — I sat down at a window facing 
the main road leading to the lake. This window was 
not far from the ground, and had been dismantled of 
its winter frame. Various bands of peasants were 
to be seen loimging about the road, and particularly * 

aroimd the gates leading to the works and the 
count's house. Small crowds had collected, and 
in the centre of one of these my late visitor Matt 
could be seen, gesticulating violently, as his tongue 
went at full speed. Presently I saw the steward ^ 

come from the direction of his own house. H« 



4 



A SULLBN CALM. 281 

' seemed to speak angrily, mth stamping of his feet 
• at the first two or three parties he passed ; but they 
heeded him not, farther than to get beyond reach of 
his arm. He was a rather corpulent man, low in 
height, with a very large flat flabby face, and his 
cheeks hung down on either side ; his nose had grown 
big at the point, divided in the middle like Dum- 
barton Bock, and was covered with a mass of blue 
and purple pimples. When he came to the main 

, group at the gate he peremptorily ordered them to 

jrp to work. I had opened the window and could 
now hear every word. The men shrugged their 
shoulders; he went passionately in amongst them, 
caUing them pigs, &c. They made way for him, 

t but lounged into a new position, exhibiting by the 

act contemptuous indifference. The crowd began to 
concentrate itself about the gate, and I heard an 

> unwonted sound, ominous at that hour — the steam 

blowing off. This indicated a stoppage of the mills 
2nd the release of perhaps a thousand hands. 

Yet still, in the fiiry of the moment, though alone 
among these people, every one of whom could have 
slain him without compunction, the unhappy steward 
went on kicking, cufiing, and swearing. Seeing Matt, 
he ordered him off to the stables, using a foul expres- 
sion. Matt only gave the usual shrug and main- 
tained his ground, receiving for his contumacy a slap 

f in the face from his master^s right hand. Matt was 

a strong fellow, and the blow fell on his cheek Uke 

^ a passing breeze, but I saw his eyes glare and his 

cheek flush. Matt looked the tyrant straight in the 



X 



282 BUSSIAN LIFE. 

eyes for a moment, and then spat in his face. The 
Bussian spit of contempt, the most unpardonable of 
Russian insults, is imlike any other kind of spit- 
ting. The Yankee squirt is a scientific affair; Eng- 
lishmen who smoke short black pipes in bars, on rails,, 
and elsewhere, expectorate in an uncleanly cltmisy 
way. But with an intense look of detestation, as he 
says, " Ah, pig !" the Russian, -v^ith the suddenness and 
good aim of a pistol-shot, plunges a ball of spittle 
right into the face or on the clothes of his adversary,, 
making a sound like the stroke of a marble where it 
hits. It is a weapon always ready. I have frequently 
seen a duel maintained with it for a considerable time 
at short range. 

Matt, having thus shown his contempt, coolly 
leaned himself up against the, gate ; but the steward^ 
insulted as he had never been before in this charac- 
teristic manner, before so many of his cringing slaves,, 
lost any remains of reason his rage might have left 
him. He used hands and feet on the crowd of pas- 
sive and hitherto quiet serfs; and seeing the old 
starost — ^Matt's father — coming up the road, he ran 
and collared the old man, dragged him to where 
his son stood, and roared out his orders to take the 
devil into the Stan's yard for punishment. 

" Old devil !" he said, "you are at the bottom of 
all this rebellion, you and your son. You shall flog 
him; and then I shall make him flog you. Go, pig^ 
and take him away !" 

The old man, for the first time in his life, openly 
disobeyed his tyrant's orders. He folded his arms 



^ 



THB BISma OF THB STOBU. 283 

across his sheepskin coat, gave the usual shrug, spat 
contemptuously on the ground, and said, " No, stew- 
ard, that is your work. Now I will not." 

"Dog I devil! do you refuse to obey your mas- 
ter? Iwill,-ifit is my work, drag you to punish- 
ment myself." 

With that he seized the starost by his luxuriant 
white beard, and began pulling him towards the next 
house, which, I have said, was the magistrate's and 

I the pohce-station. The old man rented with all his 

might, and in the struggle he fell, leaving a large 

, mass of gray or rather white hair in the steward's 

hands. The steward, finding he could not pull the 

I starost by main force, lifted his foot shod with heavy 

f leather goloshes, and struck the old man twice on the 

head. The blood immediately ran down. Up to 
this moment the crowd of peasants, which had in- 

f creased enormously, had been quiet spectators of the 
scene; but the sight of the old man's blood gave the 
finishing touch to their patience. Without a word 
the crowd began slowly to move and concentrate it- 
self around the steward and his fallen official. There 
might then have been five or six himdred people, 
and the numbers were increasing every moment, as 
the men came in from the stopped works. A rush 
took place, and the centre space was filled up with 
the mass. The bleeding starost was passed to the 

I outside. The steward was surrounded, and many 

hands were laid on him. I do not believe there had 

I been any premeditated design to hurt the steward, 

cordially as they all hated him. Had he applied the 



284 BVSSIAN LIFXU 

lesson given him that morning, and apprehended the 
changed feelings and circumstances of the serfs, he 
might have passed from among them without further 
injury. But his passions were ungovernable, and he 
was slow to believe in the possibility of any resistance 
on the part of the poor slaves he had so long driven. 
The crowd swayed heavily from one side to another^ 
tugging and pulling the poor steward about; and now 
he was in peril of his life. My window was wide 
open. He made a mute appeal to me for help. I 
signed to him to try the window. By some extra- 
ordinary effort he broke loose, and made a rush 
and a spring to catch the sill. He succeeded so far, 
and two pair of strong arms were trying to drag the 
fiit body through into the room ; but we were too late, 
or rather he was too heavy for us. The crowd tore 
him down, and held him fast. Then a voice was 
heard, clear and decided as that of an officer giving 
the word of command, — " To the water T' The voice 
was Mattvie's. A leader and an object had been 
wanted, and here there were both. Instantly the 
order was obeyed. The crowd, dragging the steward, 
left the front of my house, and took the direction of 
the lake. 

Without thinking, I picked up my double-barrel 

• and six-shooter, and was rushing out of doors, with 
what intention I know not, when I ran against Saun- 
derson. He no sooner saw the weapons, than he 
cried out in broad Scotch, " Whaur noo, ye mad dee- 
vil t guns and pistols ! it's no wolves and bears ye're 
gaun to shoot, is it ? Lord, man, you're surely mad« 



^ 



A WILD OUTBBEAK. 285 

Pit them up, pit them up ; there maun be nae shootin' 
this day. It winna do." 

^* Mr. Saunderson, let me pass ; I cannot see that 
man, bad as he is, murdered before my eyes without 
trying to help him." 

" Ay, an' get yersel' torn to pieces for your pains» 
Come, lay by the barkers ; this quarrel is none ot 
ours. Whaur's yere man Friday ? I hope he is safe 
out of this scrape." 

As the man Friday he always spoke of Harry. 

" I cannot tell; he was here a minute or two ago." 

^^ Weel, never mind ; lay by the weapons, and let 
us go and try what smooth words will do; come 
quick, or we'll be too late." 

A moment's reflection told me Saunderson was 
right. The deadly weapons were laid aside, and we 
hurried through the court-yard down to the end of 
the cotton-mill, and came out on the banks of the 
lake, just as the raging crowd of serfs were tying a 
mat with a large stone in it to the steward's neck. 

Around the margin of the lake the ice was ta 
some extent broken, and their evident intention was 
to throw him in. We ran to meet them, and if pos- 
sible prevent the horrid act of retribution. But we 
were too late ; they had selected the part of the bank 
nearest the road, as it was higher than the rest ; and 
just as we came panting up, we saw the body 
of the steward swaying in the hands of a dozen 
of the men, and heard the fatal words given out by 
Matt : " Rasy dwa^ tree^' (one, two, three) ; then a cry 
of despair, above the yelling of the crowd; then a 



286 RUSSIAN LIFE. 

plunge in the water ; no, two plunges. The ragosh- 
kie, or bark mat, containing the heavy stone which 
was to keep the steward down, had not been a good 
one; for as the body passed through the air, the stone 
fell from the mat, splashing a second or two before, 
and a little beyond the spot where he came down. 
He disappeared under the water for a moment or 
two, then made desperate efforts to scramble to 
his feet, in which he succeeded, standing up to his 
shoulders in the shallow water, with the mat-bag, 
drenched and limp, hanging f5rom his neck. There he 
stood within twenty feet of the bank, facing a thou- 
sand yelling enemies. Outside was plenty of firm 
ice; but between it and him there might be thirty 
feet of deep clear water, the bed of the lake dipping 
many feet immediately beyond where he stood. He 
seemed to comprehend his position, and was evidently 
making up his mind to contend with the deep water 
rather than with the turned worms upon the bank. 
He had raised one arm, either for entreaty or de- 
fiance, and had taken a few steps towards the ice, 
when one of the many stones thrown at him struck 
the uplifted arm, and it fell powerless to his side. 
Another, but a softer missile, struck him on the head. 
He fell again Uxider the water, and again recovered 
his feet ; l?ut the stones were now dashing like hail 
about him. The serfs were as boys pelting a toad or 
frog, — and their victim in the water did look like a 
great over-grown toad. 

Saunderson and I had made several attempts to 
be heard, or to divert the attention of the people ; but 



HARRY TO THE RESCUE. 287 

it was spending idle breath : " Go away ; it is not 
your business," some of the men said ; others, more 
«ayage, asked how we would like the same treatment. 

Saunderson whispered in my ear, " Look to the 
other side of the loch, and tell me if yonder is not a 
conveyance coming." 

"It is," I said. 
' ^' Then, thank God, that's the Count. O for five 
minutes! But how to get them. You see, Fm a man 
"wi* a family, so are you, or we might jump beside 
him and gain a few minutes." 

He had scarcely spoken, when my man Harry, 
who had been standing at our backs, and had heard 
Saunderson's remark, said, " I'll try. Blow me if I 
don't : the buflFer's a bad lot ; but I sha'n't see him 
killed. Here goes !" with that he jumped into the 
water, and was by the side of the steward in a mo- 
ment. 

The noise and stomng ceased when the serfs saw 
Harry — who had become a prime favourite amongst 
them all — ^place himself in front of the poor battered 
lalf-drowned steward. 

" Now then, you murdering humbugs, fire away 1 
but mind, the moushick as strikes me with a stone, 
ril settle him with my fist when I get out." 

They did not understand a word he said ; but for 
a little they were amazed at the daring act. This 
mood soon passed, and a voice, Matt's again, cried, 
" Come out, Harrie Harriovitch, and let the niemitz 
die alone I" 

"For shame, Mattvie Gregorovitch," cried Saun- 



288 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

derson ; ^' is this learning to be &ee ? Do you begin 
your new life with murder ?" 

" My God, baron, how can I help it t He has 
brought it all on himself, has he not? Am I to 
blame? Let him die I Harrie, come out. You must; 
if not, m send men to force you away from that son 
of a she-wolf. Don't you see five himdred stones 
ready ? I cannot now stop them if I would. But I 
don't want to stop them. Let him die, I say." 

Harry, who knew enough Russian to understand 
the purport of this speech, shouted, " No, you mur- 
dering thief ; I mayn't leave him now with my life. 
In for a penny, in for a pound. Fire away, you 
cowards !" 

"Then go pull him away," said Matt. " Harrie i 
Harriovitch must not be killed." 

A rush of many men into the water — ^a fierce 
struggle — several knocked down by Harry's ponde- 
rous arms. But after all, despite his strength, num- 
bers prevailed, and he was pulled to the bank kick- 
ing tremendously. Just at this moment, when the 
attention of all was fixed on the scene in the water, 
a sleigh, drawn by three magnificent greys, dashed 
into the crowd and drew up in the very centre of 
it. Three gentlemen, muffled in furs, occupied the 
sleigh; two of them were men in official costume. 
The third rose up, threw back his rich black foxskin 
cloak, and the assembled mob had before them the 
old Count Pomerin, dressed in the full uniform of 
a general. He was a tall, well-built man. I had 
seen him last when he was a disguised man, evad- 



A DAY OF BECKONING. 289 

ing political exile, a good deal nearer to Ms own 
estate than people thought ; but the ban was taken 
from him now, the great beard had disappeared, and 
he looked the nobleman he was. No man had been 
better informed than he as to the past mismanage- 
ment of his estate. He glanced rapidly at the mol>; 
then at the man in the water, and appeared to comr 
prehend the whole case in a moment. He then said, 
with a quiet and significant smile, while breathless 
silence was in all the crowd, "Is that my steward 
- having a bath in this cold weather ? It is a sin- 
gular taste surely, but he knows best ; I hope, my 
children, you don't interrupt him. Now go home : 
put on the best holiday clothes you have, and meet 
me at my house in two hours. I want to see every 
xme of you. Mr. Steward, please to leave your cold 
bath, and meet me in the contore (office) as soon 
ns possible. We have some accounts to settle, and 
must have you there. Mattvie Gregorovitch, see 
my orders obeyed. Drive on." And with a kindly 
nod to me and Saunderson as he passed (for we had 
been in his secret, and knew that he was come well 
prepared to surprise his steward), he drove off, and 
was round the comer and out of sight in less than 
«, minute. I need not tell how the people shouted, 
how they were too late to get the horses out, that 
they might drag their returned master in triumph 
to his house ; how tenderly they helped the steward 
out of his cold bath. He stared as if he had seen 
a ghost. Mattvie attended him with ten others to 
his house, and prevented him from making his es- 



?90 BUSSIAN LIFE, 

cape with a. bundle of important documents and 
any money he could lay his hands on. The pear 
santSy a few minutes ago yelling for vengeance, now 
yelled as loudly for joy; danced and kissed onfe 
another, and went home and got out their bes|; 
kaftans and teraphins, and polished up their lear 
ther boots. The pope set the church-bells ringing. 
The stanavoie and his men kept good order, when 
there was no use for them. And my man Harry 
stood on the bank dripping wet, shaking hands with 
'^the moushicks he had been knocking down. 

In the contore, or counting-house, about an hour 
after, the steward showed himself in no agreeable 
state of either mind or body. He had been flogged, 
drowned, and stoned by the serfs ; now he was about 
to be skinned by the Count, and this skinning pror 
cess would be the unkindest cut of all. As he sat 
shivering, his left arm in a sling, the picture of 
sullen dejected, detected rascality, I almost pitied hina. 
Besides the Count there were present many country 
dealers in wood, wool, com, and other produce; 
also several merchants from Moscow and Peters- 
burg, with whom the steward had had large busi- 
ness transactions. The books of the estate were 
there on one table, and on another were a vast num- 
ber of documents tied up and labelled. These last 
were under the immediate care of the Count. 

"Now," said he, addressing the steward, ^^the 
time has come, sir, when you and I must square ac- 
counts. You may not be prepared to meet a ma^ 
ter you imagined to be dead; — but a just steward 



A DAY OF RECKONING. 291 

'is always ready^. At all events I am prepared per- 
sonally to examine your accounts, and, on certain 
terms, give you a settlement. This must be done 
•jtt once — ^now. Or you may prefer being handed 
^ver to the police. How shall it be ?" 

The steward instantly, though very faintly, said, 
^^Now — ^now; no police." 

^^ Well, now let it be." Then taking up a bun- 
dle of papers, he said, ^' Here are eighteen documents 
made out by you, and given to my Countess, purport- 
ing|to be the yearly statement of your eighteen years' 
management of my estate and people ; income on one 
side, and expenditure on the other. By examining 
-these and looking no farther, I find myself consider- 
ably poorer than when I left you ia charge. Here 
'are mortgages, sales, and liabilities. My people are 
fewer, poorer, and ten times more miserable. It is 
'impossible to go over all the accounts, indeed it is 
not necessary; but I have picked out a few which 
require explanation. For the four years daring 
which my wife and son have kept account of their 
expenditure, I find a difference [of nearly 100,000 
roubles between your account and theirs. Take the 
year 1859, when my son travelled in France, Italy, 
and England: your statement gives 70,000 as my 
family expenditure — whereas they acknowledge to 
no more than 40,000. Your vouchers amount to 
no more. Can you produce others to make up the 
.difference?" 

" No ; I am caught in a trap like a wolf. Have 
*knercy on an old man I" 



292 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

^ Can yon make up tbe difference on the other 
three years!" 

^ No 1 Have mercy, Count T' 

" Then I write down against you 100,000 roublea,- 
Take now the horse account. Since you began 
to deal with Baranoff, there are 245 horses bought^, 
at a cost, according to your statements, of 42,000 
roubles. Stand forth, Baranoff, and say what jon 
received for these horses." 

Baranoff, one of the chief gipsy horse-dealers^, 
advanced, and produced a paper showing that 15,000 
roubles was the real sum paid him for the cattle. 

"It is false!" cried the steward; "don't believe- 
him, your Excellency. Ah, God help me; I am in 
a trap." 

"It is not false. I have very good reasons to 
know that he speaks the truth. If you can show 
receipts of his for more, do it. No I Then I write- 
27,000 roubles against you on the horse account." 

^1 Ah, this is dreadful. Have mercy. Count I" 

Then came the corn and rye accoimt, and 57,000 
roubles were added to the list; Alexy Evanoff and 
Abraham Isaacoff, the Jew corn-dealers, being wit^ 
nesses. The wool-merchants, wood-dealers, lessees 
of the works, those who had employed the "souls,'* 
and a host of other parties, whose accounts had been 
falsified, came rapidly in review; the sum against 
the stew|u*d mounting higher and higher at every 
step, until the enormous total of 1,000,000 roubles 
was made out. This sum he was compelled to re-^ 
fund on the spot, in cash, bills, and other securitie9». 



FBEEDOK. 293^ 

After which he had twenty-f otir hours given him 
to leave the estate, and was not sorry to go, taking 
with him the detestation of every soul on it ; and^ 
we had no doubt, a lai^ remainder of ill-gotten 
gains. 

The strict examination of his steward's accounts 
had consumed several hours; so that it was long 
past noon when the Count met his serfe, according 
to his orders, at the front of his own residence. On 
this large flat piece of ground were assembled se- 
veral thousands of peasants, male and female. On 
the front step, on his own threshold, stood the Count,, 
and beside him his Coimtess, his son, and several 
more distant relations, with others of less note, my-* 
self, Saunderson, the two popes of the village, and 
many of the merchants who had been assisting at 
the* stripping of the steward. Several attempts had 
been made by the peasants to throw themselves on 
the ground ; but the Count ordered them in a per^ 
emptory tone to stand up and hear what he had to 
say. After referring to his long absence, and telling 
how he came, by the clemency of the Emperor, 
to be again amongst them, he said, ^^I have ordered 
you to meet me here, that I may personally give 
every one on my estate freedom to leave and seek 
employment elsewhere. If what I am about to pro- 
pose do not suit you, you know, my children, that 
Alexander, the son of Nicholas, has wisely ordained 
that in two years from now your connection and 
mine, as it now exists, is to cease. Now, I do not 
intend to wait so long. The law allows us to dis- 



294 BUSSIAK LIFE. 

-solve that old connection when we please, I will 
dissolve it now ; and so far as I am concerned, it is 
dissolved from this moment. I hold no serfs. You 
are all, men and women, free. Qo in peace ; and I 
thank the Almighty God that I have been preserved 
and brought back to do you this act of justice." 
Here he paused, and stood uncovered for a minute* 
Then a murmur of dissatisfaction seemed to pass 
tlirough the crowd. The Count continued : "Do not 
imagine that I want any of you to leave me. Hear 
my proposition, and then go and decide. 

" The law gives each male peasant five deciatines 
of my land. For this you must pay me fifteen rou- 
bles each deciatine, and be independent. Can you 
do this? TeUme." 

A loud " Neato, neato," ran round the crowd. 

"Well, the law gives you nine years to pay that 
sum to me in yearly instalments. This makes you, 
after 1863, my tenants for nine years. Such a state 
of things I do not intend to permit. As you cannot 
pay for the land now, and as I want you all to have 
absolute freedom, I give it to you without price. It 
is yours. Every male peasant on my estate will b^ 
as soon as possible, put in possession of this quantity 
of such land as a joint committee of two on each side 
shall decide. All disputes, before going before the 
government referee, will be referred to me. In giving 
you this land, you will remember I am giving away a 
sixth of my estate for nothing. Do you accept the 
4;ermsr 

The whole assembled multitude this time went 



FREEDOM — " PREBAVIT." 295 

down on their knees and cried, ^^ Thanks^ thanks, 
good Count, illustrious master — God bless youT' 
After the first emotion had partly subsided, ten old 
grey-bearded moushicks advanced to the Count, and 
after making the usual salutation, one of them said,. 
^^We hear, O Count, and give you thanks, — ^high- 
bom master I It is a great gift you bestow, and we 
are grateftd ; but prebavit (add to it) I Five deciatines 
will no doubt give us garden-land, and com and rye 
and farm-land. We had this before. But where are 
our cows and horses to get grass, and where can we 
make hay? For many years this land you now give 
us will not support our cattle. We have always beei^ 
allowed pasture. Add this to your gift ; and may 
God give you blessing, and peace, and plenty, Alex- 
ander, the son of Gregoriva !" Prebavit I 

A voice at my ear whispered, "Gie Jacky an 
inch, an' he'll tak an ell. The eternal ^prebavit.'" 

I could see that the Count winced at this demand ; 
but smoothing his countenance he again spoke: "I 
had not expected that, after receiving a free gift of 
nearly a sixth of my property, you would ask another 
large slice in the shape of pasture-land. But T will 
not do things by halves. For ten years I shall allot 
you a sufficient extent of land for this purpose ; but 
at the end of this time you must be prepared to do 
without it, or pay for it. Will this content you?" 

Another kneeling, prostration, and loud murmur- 
ing of thanks. A pause. The ten old moushicks 
advanced again to the charge. 

The same voice whispered, ^< Prebavit again, no 



296 HUSSIAN LIFE. 

doubt. If he gies in to them, they'll no' leave him a 
Stick that he can ca' his ain." 

"Alexander, the son of Gregoriva, again we hear 
and give you thanks, and the blessing of the poor 
moushicks be with you! But hear us this once. 
You have given us farm-land and pasture*land ; we 
thank you and bless you. These are great gifts. But 
what are we to do for droff (firewood)? Where 
are we to get wood to make our jelogas and to build 
our houses ? Add to the gift droff. Prebavit I We 
have always had this. Our fathers had it. So had 
our grandfathers and great grandfathers. If it please 
your high-bom excellency, add droff to your gifts." 

*^ Prebavit, prebavit, always prebavit," said the 
Count, " When will you have done ? I have abeadj 
given you land — ^much land — ^without price, and 
made you indq)endent farmers. You might have 
been content, and bought your wood from me. But 
since long use has given you the idea that the wood 
is free to you, and as there is plenty of it for all, let 
it be so. I shall mark off a sufficient range of wood 
for your use. The rest I retain for myself. Is this 
satisfactory t" 

Thanks, prostrations, consultations, and again 
" prebavit" for liberty to fish in the lakes, — ^granted 
under certain restrictions. Again came "prebavit" 
for something else — I forget what. But the Counl^ 
who seemed to have reached the limits of his gene- 
rosity, peremptorily declined listening to the petition, 
and concluded the meeting by saying, that as many 
if not all of them were too poor to be able to put all 



i 



THE NEW POWERS OF THE FREE. 297 

their strength on their land, he would, of course, 
employ any who chose to work for him as free 
labourers in the factories and on his estate. They 
who wished an advance of money to help them, by 
giving their land as security, might have it at -easy 
interest. They who preferred roaming the country 
in idleness or in quest of other work and other homes 
might get their passports and depart. All the ar- 
rangements were ready. He advised them all to go 
home, and appoint their starost, overseers, and com- 
mittee, that they might be ready at once to act with 
him and his agents in carrying out the change on 
which they were agreed. 

Thus ended that memorable day for EvanofFsky. 
Count Pomerin was only one of many generous 
landowners who have freed their serfs in this manner 
before and since the emancipation-law was promul- 
gated. And they have nearly all gained by their 
gift of a more perfect freedom. 

I have visited the estate of Count Pomerin since, 
in 1864 ; and I can only say, that in that short time 
the change which has taken place is almost miracu- 
lous. Evanoffsky is not now a large straggling vil- 
lage of mud huts, but a thriving town. The people 
are not like the same beings ; and there is now de- 
cided evidence of the rise of a middle class, — a class 
once unknown in such places. 

It has been my object in these sketches to give as 
faithful a view as I could of the condition of Eussia 
immediately before the promulgation of the emanci- 

X 



^ 



298 RUSSIAN LIFE. 



THE END. 



LONDON: 
UOBSON AMD SON, OREAT KOB.THSBN PUnTTING WORKS, Q^ 

rAzrcRAS BOAD, v.w. ^ M r 



n 



pation ukase. Still living among the Russians, I 
take note of the progress of events under the new 
system ; and in ten years from the date of the extinc- ' 

tion of Russian serfdom, I may, if I live, describe the 
change it will have made in Russian Life. It is 
now too soon after the event to judge by its fruits. 

I put forth my little record of what serfdom was 
when this grand act of justice came ; and though I 
may not live to tell, Russia will live to know what it 
is to have given freedom to so many of her children. 



i 



•J 




pation ukase, 
take note oj 
syste] 
tio: 



r^ 



i 



\ 




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